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What Can Parents Do?

Many individuals who attempt or die by suicide have given some type of warning to loved ones ahead of time. It is important for parents to know the warning signs of depression and suicide, so they can offer their son or daughter the help that is needed.

Some parents may feel that their children who say they are going to hurt or kill themselves are "just doing it for attention." It is important to see warning signs as serious, not as "attention-seeking" to be ignored; when individuals in crisis are ignored when seeking help, their risk for self-harm may increase.

Watch and Listen

Closely supervise an individual who is depressed and withdrawn. Understanding how depression might appear in adolescents and young adults is very important; for example, chronic sadness and crying may be absent, and depression may take the form of problems with friends, failing grades, poor sleep, or being cranky and irritable rather than chronic sadness or crying.

Warning Signs
- Depression
- Isolation (e.g., stop hanging out with friends, stays in room for extended periods of time)
- Difficulty handling schoolwork
- Disinterest in activites that used to be enjoyed
- A fixation with death or violence
-  Unhealthy peer relationships
- Violent mood swings or a sudden change in personality
- Indications that the student is in an abusive relationship
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Lack of energy or feeling drained
- Emotinal outbursts, from crying to being easily irritated
- Difficulty in adjusting to gender identity
Tips for Parents

1. Know the warning signs!
2. Do not be afraid to talk to your child. Talking to your children about suicide will not put thoughts into their head.  In fact, all available evidence indicates that talking to your child lowers the risk of suicide. The message is, "Suicide is not an option, help is available."
3. Suicide-proof your home. Make the knives, pills and, above all, the firearms inaccessible.
4. Utilize school and community resources. This can include your school psychologist, crisis intervention personnel, suicide prevention groups or hotlines, or private mental health professionals.
5. Take immediate action.  If your child indicates he/she is contemplating suicide, or if your gut instinct tells you they might hurt themselves, get help.  Do not leave your child alone. Even if he denies "meaning it," stay with him. Reassure him.  Seek professional help. If necessary, drive your child to the hospital's emergency room to ensure that she is in a safe environment until a psychiatric evaluation can be completed.
6. Listen to your child's friends.  They may give hints that they are worried about their friend but be uncomfortable telling you directly. Be open. Ask questions. 

It is important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your child; do not be afraid to express your concern, support, and love. If your child confides in you, show that you take those concerns seriously. A fight with a friend might not seem like a big deal to you in the larger scheme of things, but for a young adult it can feel immense and consuming. It is important not to minimize or discount what your college student is going through, as this can increase his or her sense of hopelessness.

If your son or daughter doesn't feel comfortable talking with you, suggest a more neutral person, such as another relative, a clergy member, a coach, a school counselor, or your child's doctor.


ETSU Campus Resources Parents Should Know About:




The Jed Foundation Offers Some Great Resource Guides for Parents:

Protecting Your Child's Mental Health: What Can Parents Do? Love is Louder than Bullying: A Bully Discussion and Action Guide for Parents
  JED Parents Guide   JED Parent's Anti-Bullying Guide

The Guide Covers How to Help Your Child:

  • If your child is already in college:
  • If your child is applying to college:
  • If your child has been accepted into - but has not started - college:
  • Provides a Discussion Guide
  • Outlines Actions Parents Can Take
  • Ideas for Students



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