They may not always show it, but odds are that your child or a youth in your care wants you to take an interest in their life.

Make sure they know they can “bother” you with whatever’s weighing them down.

My Child is having suicidal thoughts. How can I support them?

Learning that your child is thinking about suicide can be a scary thing for a parent or caregiver. First of all, stay calm. And take their feelings seriously.

  • Encourage your child to talk about why they are thinking about suicide. Listen without dismissing or judging their feelings.
  • Thank them for their honesty. Encourage them to talk about the reasons they feel this. Say, “I’m sorry you are in this pain. Let’s get help and learn more together”.
  • Prioritize safety. Remove any weapons from your home and securely store blades, rope, and medications. Do not leave them alone. Learn more at:
  • A child or youth who is having suicidal thoughts should be seen by a mental health professional.
  • Based on your judgment about the urgency of the situation, you can also bring them directly to the emergency room.

Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 any time (24/7) to get help right away. Get more resources.

My child shared that their friend is talking about suicide. How can I help?

Reassure your child that they did the right thing in telling you. They may feel like they’re betraying their friend’s trust, but they need to know that they are actually potentially saving their life.

  • Find out more about the situation, and what their friend has said or done. Does their friend have a specific plan?
  • If you are able to talk to their friend directly, let them know you are there to listen and help. If possible, get in touch with their parent or teacher.
  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 any time (24/7) to get advice on how to proceed.

My child’s teacher told me they’re concerned that my child may be depressed. How should I start the conversation with my child to find out if they are suicidal?

Sometimes young people hesitate to come to a parent or caregiver with their problems because they are afraid of bothering you. Make time to talk when you can give them your full attention.

  • Share their teacher’s concerns, and any changes in behaviors you may have noticed.
  • Ask your child directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” or “Are you thinking of ending your life?”

Asking questions won’t put the idea in their head. Your child may be relieved that you brought it up.

I have noticed that my child’s mental health has gotten worse. What should I do?

Everyone faces challenges and our mental health can change from one day to the next.

But sometimes the bad days far outnumber the good ones, and your child may need more support. Addressing issues before they become a crisis lowers your child’s risk of suicide.

See “What are the warning signs of suicide” below. This might also be time to seek help from a therapist or school counselor.

For your child’s long-term wellness, help them build healthy habits like:

Getting enough sleep
Eating healthy food
Drinking water
Physical activity

Learning skills for how to handle their stress and use self-care tools will also serve them for their whole life. See more coping skills here.

Most importantly, make sure your child knows they can “bother” you any time they have something on their mind. And then be sure to listen.

What are the warning signs of suicide?

Take these signs seriously — especially if the behavior is new or has increased recently, or if it’s related to a painful life event, loss, or change (like a breakup or argument).

A child having thoughts of suicide might say things like:

  • “I don’t want to be here anymore.”
  • “No one would care if I’m gone anyways.”
  • “What’s the point anyways?”
  • “I’m going to kill myself if that happens.”

If you see any of these warning signs, it’s time to start the conversation with your child to find out if they are thinking about suicide. You and the youth in your care can also get free and confidential support at Brightlife Kids App.

My child attempted suicide. What can I do to support them moving forward?

As a parent or caregiver, there may be no worse thought than the possibility of losing your child to suicide. Let them know you are there for them and most importantly, know that you are not alone in supporting a youth in your care.

Here are some ways you can support your child:

  • Encourage them to talk about the attempt if they want to, but don’t push them. Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Know that healing after a suicide attempt is going to take time, at your child’s own pace.
  • Find a mental health professional that your child is comfortable with.
  • Develop and support your child’s safety plan. A safety plan identifies coping strategies and people and places that can offer support.
  • Check in with your child and make it clear that you are there to listen and support no matter what.

Be sure to also take care of yourself while dealing with this stressful event.

What I wish my parents knew