Talking about Teen Suicide
Suicide isn’t a comfortable topic, but it is very real, and we need to discuss it. Turning a blind eye doesn’t help anyone. And as Christians, aren’t we supposed to be reaching out and helping the hurting?
It doesn’t limit itself to any category, but for this article, I’m focusing on teen suicide.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for fifteen to twenty-four year old Americans ( see here), which is heartbreaking. Those are deaths that could have been prevented. Especially when you consider that one out of three youth suicides aren’t a first attempt ( https://jasonfounation.com/youth-suicide/facts-stats/).
And four out of five youths who attempt suicide have shown clear warning signs (see previous link). The warning signs are:
- Sudden changes in behavior.
- Talking about wanting to die.
- Preoccupation with death.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Withdrawal/isolation – in action and/or feeling.
- Looking for means to commit suicide.
- Giving away possessions.
- Being anxious, agitated, or reckless.
- Talking about hopelessness or purposeless.
- Increased use/abuse of drugs or alcohol.
- Overwhelming emotional pain.
How can you tell if it’s just moodiness, or if it’s something bigger? -If there are multiple signs, and are out of character, and persist, it’s something bigger. When in doubt, ask. Just don’t ignore or try to downplay the signs.
Because, seriously, the thought that they won’t really do it, or that nothing will stop them are myths. They will do it. And even if they don’t, or if they survive, the pain is still there. Suicide is a symptom. They want someone to care. People struggle between wanting to live and wanting to die, even to the end.
What should we do? How do you talk to a possibly suicidal person? The secret is to listen, be kind, and care. Be polite, and ask direct questions such as:
- “how are you?” (How are you really doing?)
- “How are you dealing with…”. (Fill in the blanks).
- “Do you ever feel like just giving up?”
- “Do you have a plan? When? How?” (This is so you can judge how soon you need to act).
-Asking won’t give them the idea, it actually reduces the risk. (here are some common myths about suicide).
If their answer is yes, stay calm, and be compassionate. Don’t promise confidentiality, or if you do, be prepared to break it.
Take a note from James 1:19. Quick to listen: be respectful, actually listen, try to understand, and thank them for telling you. Slow to speak: shut up; don’t try to fix it all; relax; don’t judge, preach, or lecture; and don’t interrupt. Slow to become angry: don’t name-call, blame, panic, or try to talk them out of their feelings. In short, listen and be kind.
Also, encourage them that things can get better, and to call a suicide hotline number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or to text the crisis text line: HOME to 741741. Tell them you care, and ask what you can do to help.
Don’t act alone. Tell an adult. Keep talking to them, and be there.
Basically, the sum of all it is this:
•Really talk to people
•Don’t ignore their struggles
There are a ton of resources out there for every group, so help is never far. There are also support groups on Facebook. Here are some resources:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-275-TALK (8255).
Crisis text line: HOME to 741741, for free, 24/7, anonymous crisis councilling.
•The Jason Foundation, various.
•Mayo Clinic, Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal
•Save.org: Starting on this page
• Speaking of suicide: 10 things to say to a suicidal person
• SuicideLine Victoria: Supporting someone after a suicide attempt
• The Parent Resorce Program from the Jason Foundation.
Know you are loved, and love others.
Blue Pail Bloggers.