Unfortunately for many teens, depression, and suicide go hand-in-hand. This does not mean every teen who suffers from depression will attempt suicide or consider doing so. But it does mean that if your child is depressed, you as a parent should be aware of the possibility of suicide and take steps to prevent it. What can you do, specifically? Start by following these steps.
1. Take your child to therapy.
Don't wait for your child to tell you that they're having suicidal thoughts, and don't wait for them to attempt suicide. Enroll them in therapy ASAP. Therapy can be really helpful in treating depression or keeping it from worsening. This is especially true for teens since they don't always feel comfortable opening up to friends or family members about their feelings. Being able to talk through their depression with a therapist may keep it from escalating to the point of causing suicidal thoughts. And if thoughts of suicide do start arising, your teen will already know and be comfortable with a therapist who they can speak about these feelings.
2. Talk openly with your teen, and listen to them openly, too.
It's important that your teen knows they can talk to you about anything. If they do feel suicidal, you want them to share that with you rather than keeping it to themselves. Practice being open with your teen by talking about your mental health and any struggles you have had over the years. Knowing that they are not alone will encourage them to open up. When your child does open up, listen closely, and be encouraging. Do not demean them for their thoughts or feelings; take them seriously.
3. Help your child stay active.
Staying active is so good for mental health in general. It can help ward off depression and thoughts of suicide. Do whatever you can to help your teen stay active. Encourage them to participate in a school sport or a community activity. If your child is not the athletic type, you can take a family walk every night or go cycling together on the weekends. Engaging in an activity they love will also help your teen feel fulfilled, which will further help prevent depression and suicidal thoughts.
Suicide prevention is something that should remain on every parent's mind. You can implement the tips above to help keep your teen safe during this challenging period of depression.
As a lifetime sufferer of depression, I have spent a great deal of time in therapy. One thing that I learned early on was the importance of having a good attitude and trying to figure out how to cope with some of the suggestions that my counselors gave me. I realized that when it came to having a good experience, the bulk of the responsibility fell in my lap. I started working hard to take their suggestions in stride and carefully analyze my life and my behavior. This blog is all about improving the counseling process by having a better attitude.