World Suicide Prevention Day: How to spot and support a young person with suicidal thoughts

Many parents I work with worry about their child’s increasing level of anxiety, sometimes before an upcoming test, or exam. Or perhaps an increase in anxiety due to friendships, or social media posting or self-image and appearance. These feelings of anxiety and low mood can sometimes trigger suicidal thoughts. But how do you pick up on the tell-tale signs and support a young person who is struggling this much?

If your child or teenager isn’t communicating with you about their anxiety or depression, some signals could include:

  • Feeling low or coming across as ‘aloof’

  • Seemingly avoiding communication

  • Shutting themselves away in their room

  • Erratic sleep patterns.

  • Lack of engagement

Therapy session between a teenage boy and a female practitioner
Something we can do to help as parents is simply speaking with our child, or teenager.

Of course, it is very important to be attune to changes in mood, behaviours or actions in our children and to always be open to the idea of getting further support from clinicians and professionals, but something we can do to help as parents is simply speaking with our child, or teenager when the right moment occurs. Remember to do this in an authentic way, making sure our focus is on empathising, rather than sympathising with their reflections (however patchy and brief) and to simply listen without sharing our parental worries or concerns.

This is one of the most important things we can do as parents, before taking any further steps. Contrary to myth, talking about feeling low, anxious or depressed often makes things better, not worse, but the key here is on the way we communicate with our child. If they feel that we are there for them, simply present, actively listening, and non-judgmental we are already one step ahead to supporting them. A simple piece of psychological advice, but one that often is so very hard to do!

If you would like to find out more about The Key Clinic’s drug-free approach to treating conditions like anxiety and depression, explore our website or get in touch with us today.

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