12 actions parents can do to prevent suicide.

As children become adolescents, it is more difficult for parents to know how they are feeling and what they are thinking. Parents, or family members, can help children and preteens cope with a time or situation in their lives that is difficult to cope with. Learn about factors that may increase your child's risk of suicide and explore the 12 suggestions below. These steps will help you feel better prepared to offer the sincere, loving, nonjudgmental support your child needs.

1. If you notice signs that your child's mental health is deteriorating, connect with your child.
Maybe your child is just having a bad day, but when signs of mental health problems last for weeks, don't assume it's just a passing mood. Studies show that 9 out of 10 teens who took their own lives had mental health problems such as anxiety. But keep in mind: Teens who have not been diagnosed with any mental health conditions may still be at risk. In part, this is because it can be difficult to identify mental health problems at young ages. Many teens who attempt suicide do not have underlying mental health problems, but in most cases, they will give signs that they are considering ending their own lives. Your goal should be to remain calm, alert and ready to talk to your child. Don't wait for them to come to you. You might start by saying, 'You seem sad. I'm open to talking about this, because I love you and I care about what happens to you.'

2. Listen to your child, even when he or she is not talking.
Don't be surprised if your teen pulls away when you first bring up the topic of mental health or suicide. Keep in mind that even if your child is silent at first, actions may speak louder than words. Watch for major changes in your child's sleep patterns, appetite and social activities. Self-isolation, especially for children who usually enjoy going out with friends or playing sports, can indicate serious difficulties. If your child is having more difficulty than usual with schoolwork, household chores and other responsibilities, these are additional signs that you should not ignore.

3. Consider that your child may face suicide risks that you have overlooked.
Many parents wonder: Can this really happen to my child? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Young people of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels, and community backgrounds die by suicide each year. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and youth ages 8 to 24. Here are some things that may make young people think about ending their lives: -Loss of a loved one due to death, divorce, relocation, deportation or incarceration. -Bullying or harassment, in person or online. -Discrimination, rejection or hostility based on gender identity or sexual orientation. -Racism, discrimination and inequalities and related stress factors. -Family history of suicide or mental health problems. -Stigma (the belief that it is wrong or shameful to talk about mental health or suicide). -Easy access to firearms or other potentially deadly tools and substances. -Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence or abuse. -Financial instability that generates concern and insecurity. -Suicide in their school or among their group of friends. Get more insight into your child's specific risks.

4. Never dismiss suicide threats as typical teen melodrama.
Never assume your child is exaggerating or playing games if he or she says or writes something like: 'I want to die.' 'I don't care anymore.' 'Nothing matters or I don't matter.' 'I wonder how many people would come to my funeral.' 'Sometimes I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.' 'Everyone would be better off without me.' 'You won't have to worry about me for much longer.' Many children who attempt suicide will tell their parents ahead of time (although others do not). These words indicate an urgent need for help. Don't risk being wrong about this. Take all claims about suicide seriously.

5. Respond with empathy and understanding.
When your child talks or writes about suicide, you may feel shocked, hurt or angry. You may even want to deny what you are seeing or argue with your child. These feelings are natural and valid, but it's essential to focus on your child's needs first and foremost. Your goal is to create a safe space where your teen can trust you to listen and express concern, but without judgment or blame. React by showing support and that you are willing to help: 'Nothing that happens to you is your fault.' 'I do care about you, and a lot.' 'You have a great life, why would you end it?'. 'Thank you for trusting me, but don't say that, it's not right.'

6. Seek professional help immediately.
If your child or adolescent is self-harming or feels that he or she is at imminent risk of a more serious suicide attempt, do not leave him or her alone and take him or her to the emergency department of your local hospital. Quick action is crucial when things have reached a critical point. If you see signs of suicidal thoughts, contact your pediatrician or local mental health providers who treat children and adolescents. Explain what you are seeing and hearing and schedule a mental health evaluation or contact our free psychological support department. Health care providers can help you and your child create a safety plan that covers: -Warning signs or triggers that your child feels will lead to suicidal thoughts. -Possible steps to help them cope with difficult situations when they feel desolate. -Sources of support: family, friends, teachers, mentors and others. -Be familiar with emergency contacts and steps to take if things take a turn for the worse.

7. Remove or secure weapons in your home, as well as other lethal tools and substances.
Half of all suicides among children and teens occur with firearms, and suicide attempts with firearms are almost always fatal. By far the safest option is to remove guns and ammunition from your home while your teen is having suicidal thoughts. Many families turn guns over to relatives or other trusted individuals to help protect their teen during a vulnerable time. Secure home storage is the second best option. Locking and unloading all guns, with ammunition stored and locked in a separate space, reduces the risk of tragedy. Disassembling the guns, removing the firing pin and storing the parts separately and under lock and key is another option. Of course, guns are not the only means of suicide your child might pursue. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can present dangers during a suicidal crisis. Families should lock up medications and, whenever possible, reduce the volume of medications available. Also consider purchasing over-the-counter medications in blister packs rather than bottles, so that you can be on the lookout for missing pills. Other potentially lethal tools and substances you should consider locking up include: -Alcohol. -Illicit drugs. -Household cleaners and other poisonous products. -Canned products for sprinkling. -Inhalants. -Antifreeze. -Knives, razors or other bladed weapons. -Ropes, belts or plastic bags, to name a few. The job of removing or locking up these objects and substances may seem daunting, but your child's safety is at stake. Suicide attempts are often impulsive and a moment of crisis can escalate very quickly. It's critical to make sure your teen can't get their hands on lethal means at the wrong time.

8. As your child enters treatment, focus on building hope.
Your child's psychological care team will likely recommend a combination of steps to reduce mental health symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Provide honest reassurance to your child along the way. Remind them (and yourself) that difficult times don't last forever. People feel better when they receive effective treatment and support. If your child expresses feelings of stigma or shame, you can remind them that 1 in 5 people have mental health symptoms at some point in their lives. Mental health is part of total health, and seeking help is a sign of self-esteem and maturity.

9. Encourage them to see family and friends.
Your child may be reluctant to spend time with others, but you can explain that social support will help them feel better. While more quiet times may be needed at first, it will be helpful to gently encourage them to hang out with family, friends and neighbors. Avoid power struggles around specific events or invitations, as your goal is to respect your child's needs and minimize stress.

10. Suggest exercise
Physical activity alleviates mental health symptoms and supports your child's wellness plan. Whether it's getting outside for a daily walk, working out at the gym, an online exercise class or something else, exercise elevates your child's mood by stimulating the production of endorphins (natural substances in the brain and body that help balance stress and manage pain). Physical activity also supports higher levels of serotonin, another substance in the brain and body that leads to a positive mood and restful sleep. Experts recommend exercising 30 to 40 minutes 2 to 5 times a week. Any form of exercise is fine. What matters most is that your teen enjoys this activity and is motivated to do it regularly. A short trip is also recommended, a walk on the beach, in the mountains or in nature, seeing the water, the river or the sea will really produce a state of calm that will help him meditate on his suicidal thoughts and you, as a parent, should be there to support him.

11. Encourage balance and moderation
Adolescents in crisis need to be less demanding on themselves. This means adopting a realistic pace and avoiding experiences that can be overwhelming. Reassure your child that self-care is never a sign of weakness. Everything we do in life is affected by our health, so it is critical to give ourselves time to heal. Large tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable ones, and gradually, as your child's confidence and strength grow, they will feel ready to take on more.

12. Remind each other that this will take time.
You and your child will benefit from knowing that progress will come at your own pace. Setbacks may occur, which are also part of the healing process. Encourage your child to be patient and self-forgiving. They have been through a lot, but with the right attention and support, you will both see improvement.

It is very important, depending on your belief, to always trust in God, that He can help you out of this difficult situation. Everything is possible with God's help.