Parent FAQ about Suicide
- What are some myths and facts surrounding suicide?
- Why do some people commit suicide?
- What are some warning signs of suicide?
- What should I do if I suspect someone is suicidal?
It is a myth that talking to someone about their suicidal feelings will cause them to commit suicide.
Fact: Most suicidal people are ambivalent, that is, part of them is saying “I want to die,” but the other part is saying, “I want to live.”
It is a myth that people who talk about committing suicide never actually do it.
Fact: When someone talks about committing suicide, he/she may be giving a warning that should not be ignored by others who hear such comments.
It is a myth that there is a “typical” type of person who commits suicide.
Fact: Potential for suicide exists in all of us. There is no “typical” type of suicidal person.
It is a myth that suicide occurs without warning.
Fact: Many people, including adolescents, give warnings of their suicidal interest. Many of these signs may not be obvious. They are often difficult to detect by the listener.
The suicidal person feels a tremendous sense of loneliness, isolation, helplessness and hopelessness. For the young person, these feelings may be caused by family conflicts, a divorce or separation, the death of a parent, the breakup of a romance, confusion over sexual orientation, unexpected or unwanted pregnancy, loss of social or financial status, the move to a new school or pressure to succeed at school. Typically suicide is the result of an accumulation of stressors. Do not judge the impact of these crises by adult standards; rather, consider them in reference to the adolescent.
Suicidal people feel that they can no longer cope with their problems and that suicide may be the only way out. Most people think about suicide at some point in their life. Most people find that these thoughts are temporary and that things do get better. Suicide is a needless and permanent solution to short-term problems.
Often people who are contemplating ending their lives will give signals or signs of their intent. One sign alone does not mean that a person is suicidal. Several signs at one time, however, may mean that person is seeking help. A few signs are:
- Verbal suicide threats
- Previous suicide attempts
- Personality changes (unusual withdrawal, aggression or moodiness)
- Depression (changes in normal appetite, sleep disturbances, sudden drop in school performance, etc.)
- Final arrangements (making a will, giving away prized possessions)
- Themes on death, depression and suicide in student's writings and artwork
- A dramatic shift in the quality of school work
- Loss of friends
Resources in your school
- Social Worker
- AEA Representative
YOU are in a strategic position to identify and get help for the suicidal teenager.
REMEMBER, SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED.
When you suspect a person is suicidal:
- Believe or trust your suspicions.
- Communicate your concern for the safety of the person. Be an active listener and show your support. Inform the person that you cannot keep the conversation confidential, and that you will be seeking assistance.
- Be direct. Talk openly and freely and ask direct questions about the person’s intentions. Try to determine if he/she has a plan for suicide (how, where, when). The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
Get professional assistance:
- Inform your building administrator, school social worker, psychologist, school counselor, minister, physician, school nurse, law enforcement or someone who can help solve the problem(s).
- Should you suspect someone may be contemplating suicide, contact a family member to remove all guns, lethal medications, alcohol, etc., from the house.
What not to do:
- Do not assume that the person in need isn't the "type" to commit suicide.
- Do not leave the person alone if you believe the risk for suicide is immediate.
- Do not act shocked at what a person tells you.
- Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong. This may make a person feel more guilt.
- Do not use a suicide contract as your only method of dealing with the situation.