Tips on Navigating a Suicide Concern
September 21, 2022
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association declared a national state of emergency for child and adolescent mental health, making this September’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month more imperative to highlight.
At Dee Norton, we know that children who have experienced abuse are at an increased risk of negative outcomes, including mental and physical illness and suicide. A recent study from 2020 showed that children who were sexually abused were 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, those physically abused had their odds doubled for suicide attempts and children who were emotionally abused also were 2 times more likely to attempt suicide.
“At Dee Norton, we know children can, and often do, heal from traumatic experiences. Just like prescription medications have research studies to prove they work, therapies for trauma symptoms have advanced to the point that there are therapies proven in a field of research to reduce trauma symptoms for victims of child abuse. We believe all child victims deserve access to this type of help,” says Beverly Hutchison, Executive Director of Norton Child Advocacy Center.
If you have concerns about a friend or loved one, or someone comes to you with a suicide-related crisis, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says there are a few things you can do:
- Calmly ask simple and direct questions, like, “Who can I help you call for support?”
- If there are multiple people around, have one person speak at a time.
- Express support and concern.
- Although you may never know how your friend or loved one is feeling in that moment, you could say something like, “I can’t imagine how painful this is for you, but I would like to try to understand”, or tell them you care about them and they are not alone.
- Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice.
- Be patient.
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you are worried about a loved one, or yourself, having suicidal thoughts, you can now seek immediate help from trained counselors by calling 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.