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When a teen feels suicide is “the only way out”

Rima Himelstein, M.D. talks about the risk factors for teen suicide and how parents can approach the difficult topic of suicide with their children.

Maybe you and your teen heard the news report earlier this month about the 22-year-old who jumped to her death from the George Washington Bridge in New York. It’s not an easy thing to talk about … but we have to talk about it if we are going to prevent it. 

  1. Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or a behavior problem        

  2. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth

  3. Family history of suicide

  4. Stressful life event or loss

  5. Easy access to lethal methods        

  6. Bullied   

  1. Restrict teens' access to alcohol, prescription medications, and firearms: keep them safely locked up.

  2. Be direct with your teens. Ask them if they ever have felt so badly that they wish they were not around any longer. Research shows that asking them about depression or suicide does not make them more likely to hurt themselves.

  3. Tell your teens that if a friend has talked about suicide– to tell an adult right away– even if the friend says not to!

  4. Take all suicide attempts seriously. Every action, including superficial cutting or ingestion of a few extra pills, must be taken seriously because a child or adolescent might believe that the action could have caused death.

  5. Get help right away. Start with your teen's doctor. Or, if it is an emergency, call 911, a suicide hotline or go to a crisis center.