More and more children, every year, are losing hope and seeing suicide as their only way out. Statistics show that suicide among teens and young adults is the second leading cause of death.
Why are our children suffering and what can you do to prevent mental health issues in your kids?
Looking for Warning Signs
With suicide as the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds, behind car accidents, it is important to be aware of the issues that your child faces. Warning signs are critical to addressing the mental health issue head-on.
Depression does not always offer clear-cut signs that something is wrong. Parents should be in touch with their children and notice things that are different and out of the ordinary. This can be challenging when your teen or young adult no longer lives at home.
Signs of mental health issues include weight loss, changes in sleep patterns, emotional outbursts or crying for no reason, loss of energy or chronic fatigue, and recurring headaches. If your child is away at college, check in with them often and observe physical cues, such as weight loss or isolation.
Talking to Your Teen
One of the most important things that parents can do is to have conversations with their children – often. Keep the communication lines open, well before you suspect a problem. When you feel they are in trouble, it may be too late to probe deeply. They may be more inclined to shut down and not allow you in.
Keep the dialogue between parent and teen open, encouraging, and unrelenting. If a conversation is left undone one day, be sure to let them know you will be picking back up where you left off the next day.
Remember, your child may act fine one day and different the next. There will be good days and bad, especially mentally. When you communicate with your child, you will become more aware of the cues and mental illness signs. When they feel overwhelmed, encourage them and make yourself readily available. Don’t give up on your communication.
A Last Resort
If your gut tells you that your child may commit suicide, don’t ignore that feeling. If you fear the worst, ask your child if they are considering suicide. If they admit to it, get them the help they need immediately. Don’t ever wait.
Don’t be afraid to make significant changes for your children. Pull them out of school, move away, or do whatever it takes to help your child. It takes a lot of work, and a willingness to put them first above everything else. If you are willing, you have a better chance of preventing the unthinkable. Help is available and you are not alone.