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Supporting A Child Who Is Thinking Of Suicide

As a parent it’s frightening to hear your child talk about suicide and it can be difficult to know how to help. You are your child’s greatest source of support.

Mum hugs upset daughter

If you think your child is having thoughts of suicide

It may feel overwhelming but there are ways you can support them.

  • Trust yourself and your instincts
  • Take warning signs seriously
  • Let your child know that you are concerned
  • Ask if they are okay and offer to help
  • Listen to your child without judgment
  • Get professional support through a GP, psychologist or counsellor
  • Encourage them to talk to a Kids Helpline counsellor for support

If your child is in immediate danger, call 000 and stay with them until they are safe.

As a parent it might be difficult to tell the difference between warning signs and normal ups and downs for your child

Common warning signs are:

Withdrawing from others 

Increased alcohol or drug use

Not doing things they use to enjoy

Self-harming behaviours like cutting

Increased risk-taking or recklessness 

Dramatic changes in mood, including being suddenly happy 

Giving away possessions, saying goodbye or writing a note

Talking about death or suicide (even in a joking way)

Having the means to end their life such as medication or weapons 

Feeling like a burden to others – “You would be better off without me” 

Talking about feeling worthless, hopeless, alone or having no reason to live

Hints they are thinking about suicide such as “I’d like to go to sleep and never wake up”

As parents we can be our child’s greatest source of support

How you can help your child with thoughts of suicide:

  • Let them know that they are not alone with this
  • Be open to talking about their suicidal thoughts 
  • Be direct when asking them about suicide 
  • Ask about plans and immediate risk 
  • Remove anything that might cause harm (medication, sharp objects, rope)  
  • Help your child get professional support. Keep checking in on their wellbeing

Hearing that your child is having suicidal thoughts is distressing and it is likely to have a big impact on you

You are not expected to be their counsellor or to know exactly what to do.

It’s OK to seek help for yourself.

Reaching out for professional support is important for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your child.

Looking after yourself means that you can be more available and responsive to help your child get through this.

You’re not alone - support is available for you and your child

"Know that it's okay not to have all the answers: just listen, be patient, show them you care, and help them get professional support"

- Samuel*, 17

This content was last reviewed 17/05/2018

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