How to Know and What to Do
If Your Child Has Suicidal Thoughts
It is widely believed that suicidal thoughts are linked to stressors and feelings of hopelessness and despair in adults. However, empirical evidence and anecdotal information suggest that children are also at risk of suicide.
The harboring of suicidal thoughts is a serious and growing problem among children and adolescents today. Suicide in teens occurs mostly among those who suffer from a mental health disorder, usually depression.
Recent reports from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also rated suicide as the leading cause of death among children between the ages of 10 and 24.
Knowing if your child has suicidal thoughts
Though certain statistics reveal that suicide deaths in children are limited, numerous studies counter the claim, positing that the number of suicide deaths in children is much more than the figures reported.
Some claim that children do not have the developmental maturity to act on suicidal thoughts. The question is, how do you tell if your child has suicidal thoughts? How do you know if and when they can act on those suicidal thoughts if truly they are nurturing them?
Children who have suicidal thoughts usually do not speak about them. It is, therefore, crucial to identify children at risk of committing suicide as early as possible by studying the telltale signs. What are these telltale signs you should look out for?
Minor Signs of Suicidal Thoughts in Children
Knowing that it might be difficult to notice the signs of a child having suicidal thoughts, it is important to observe the changes highlighted below.
Change in behavior:
Take your time to notice little changes in your child’s behavior. While suicidal thoughts are related to depression, you might observe some of the following:
- Irregular sleep pattern (either the child begins to sleep a lot or doesn’t get to sleep well).
- Unstable dieting; either eats too much or refuses to eat.
- Isolation from peers at school or from siblings at home.
- Events of headaches, stomachaches.
Unstable performance at school:
The following are signs to watch out for:
- Drop in the child’s performance in school work.
- Isolation from peers and refusal to participate in class activities.
- Losses interest in his/her study.
- Seizes to participate in extracurricular activities (like football games and other forms of sports activities).
What to do if Your Child Has Suicidal Thoughts?
The following will help;
- Provide a mental health specialist for your child
Get a mental health specialist to give immediate attention to your child when you notice that suicidal thoughts are creeping. A specialist will help to understand the reasons behind those thoughts and to provide a treatment schedule. Also, make sure the specialist is not so far away so as to enable his services easily accessible in times of urgent need.
- Listen patiently
Whenever your child talks or says negative things concerning his life, try not to demean his/her thoughts but be a good listener and show him how much you care and love them. Assure him/her that you are so happy to have him in your life and would be very hurt if anything happens to them.
- Get rid of harmful objects
Make sure that harmful objects/weapons such as guns, knives or even broken bottles are kept far away from children exhibiting suicidal thoughts. Find a way to secure all weapons that can endanger a child and keep where the child can’t have access to.
Remember, suicide in children is preventable. Always pay attention to the warning signs and know the risk factors. By taking action immediately and following the step outlined above, you can help your child deal with their suicidal thoughts.