Treating our youth with kindness.

Be aware. Act accordingly.

Let’s face it, being the parent or guardian of a teenager is tough work – but it’s also one of the most rewarding responsibilities in life. We understand how upsetting it can be when your child is facing anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide and self-harm, but know that you aren’t alone in finding help.

If you believe your child has attempted or is planning a death by suicide, please call 988 or continue below for further resources and ways to detect warning signals.


It may come as a surprise, but the majority of teenagers actively desire a close and trusting relationship with their parents, guardians, or loved ones. By fostering an environment of openness and honesty, you create a safe space where your teen feels comfortable reaching out during moments of uncertainty or when contemplating self-harm.

Building a strong foundation of communication and trust involves actively listening, offering non-judgmental support, and encouraging your teen to express their thoughts and emotions. When teens feel understood and accepted, they are more likely to confide in their parents or guardians during challenging times.

Remember, nurturing a healthy relationship involves ongoing efforts, but the benefits of creating a supportive and open connection can be profound, especially when it comes to addressing sensitive issues such as mental health concerns.

Building Strong Connections: Effective Strategies

  1. Provide a Stable Environment:
    • Ensure a safe physical and emotional environment that promotes trust and security.
  2. Be Present:
    • Spend quality time together to strengthen your bond.
  3. Active Listening:
    • Truly listen to your teens, paying attention not only to their words but also to their actions and emotions.
  4. Offer Support, Not Judgment:
    • Provide support instead of judgment or dismissing their feelings. Create an atmosphere where they feel understood.
  5. Lead by Example:
    • Demonstrate and encourage appropriate expression of emotions.
  6. Regular Check-Ins:
    • Regular communication helps build trust and keeps you informed about their well-being.
  7. Talk TO Them, Not AT Them:
    • Engage in conversations rather than delivering lectures. Create a space for dialogue where both parties can express themselves.
  8. Take Suicide Threats Seriously:
    • Seek professional help immediately.
  9. Educate Yourself and Your Teen:
    • Stay informed about mental health practices, and share this knowledge with your teen. Encourage self-care practices for mental well-being.
Parent hugging child

Supportive and Empathetic Outreach to Struggling Youth

  1. “If you need anything, I’m right here.”
    • Offering your availability and support lets them know you’re ready to help.
  2. “Is there anything upsetting you?”
    • Encouraging them to share what’s on their mind opens the door for communication.
  3. “Do you ever feel scared, angry, lonely, or frustrated?”
    • Acknowledging a range of emotions can help them feel understood and more willing to express their feelings.
  4. “I understand how you feel.”
    • Expressing empathy can provide comfort and assurance that they’re not alone in their struggles.
  5. “Have you ever had harmful thoughts?”
    • Asking about harmful thoughts directly, in a non-judgmental way, encourages honesty and allows for a more open conversation.

Remember to approach the conversation with a calm and non-confrontational demeanor. If they do share concerning thoughts or emotions, encourage them to speak with a mental health professional or someone they trust. Always take any mention of self-harm or suicidal thoughts seriously and seek immediate professional help.

Mother and daughter lying in grass

Signs of Distress and Suicide Risk in Youth

It’s crucial to be vigilant for behaviors that may signal extreme distress and could potentially lead to suicidal ideation, especially in children who have been exposed to life-threatening events, violence, or traumatic losses. Recognizing these warning signs is essential for early intervention and support. Here are examples to be aware of:

  1. Dramatic Change in Personality: Sudden and significant shifts in behavior or demeanor.
  2. Relationship Issues: Trouble with a girlfriend or boyfriend, difficulty getting along with friends or parents.
  3. Social Withdrawal: Pulling away from people who were once close, isolating themselves.
  4. Academic Decline: Falling behind in school, expressing disinterest or struggling to focus.
  5. Boredom: Persistent feelings of boredom and disengagement.
  6. Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling with focus and attention.
  7. Rebellious Behavior: Acting out in ways that defy authority or societal norms.
  8. Pregnancy Struggles: Difficulty coping with pregnancy-related stress.
  9. Substance Abuse: Abusing drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
  10. Running Away: Escaping from home, attempting to distance themselves.
  11. Physical Complaints: Expressing severe headaches or stomach aches.
  12. Changed Eating/Sleeping Habits: Alterations in eating or sleeping patterns.
  13. Deteriorating Appearance: A noticeable decline in personal grooming or hygiene.
  14. Giving Away Possessions: Disposing of prized possessions without apparent reason.
  15. Expressions of Death: Writing notes or poems that allude to death.
  16. Talk of Suicide: Verbalizing thoughts about suicide.
  17. Previous Suicide Attempts
  18. Family History of Suicide

If you observe these signs, it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately. Reach out to mental health professionals, counselors, or hotlines that specialize in suicide prevention to provide timely assistance and support.