Four years ago, my 16 year old son told me that he was suicidal. I was shocked and confused. I had no idea he was so unhappy, or had considered taking his own life. I felt like a failure as a parent.
It took several months and lots of open and vulnerable conversations to help our son. We made changes as a family and talked openly about love and acceptance.
Now, I feel like my son is emotionally healthy. He still deals with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, but he recognizes purpose and value in his life. He has the tools and friends he needs to help him overcome feelings of depression.
Suicide is scary. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding it. I want to help parents have a better understanding of suicide and what they can do. Here is information I learned about suicide prevention from a lecture given by Shannon Miles, MA, LMFT (Licenced Marriage Family Therapist).
Facts about suicide:
- Those who have survived a suicide attempt, express regret and a desire to live.
- Some one in the United States dies by suicide every 12 minutes.
- Most suicidal people do not want to die.
- Eight out of 10 suicides are male.
- Suicide has a higher death rate than opioids.
- Chronic suicide attempts may indicate unaddressed mental health issues.
- Alcohol and drug use heighten suicide risk.
- Guns are the No. 1 method used in successful suicides (accounting for 55 percent of all suicides).
The information I found most surprising was the usage (and subsequent deaths) caused by firearms. If you own firearms, do keep them locked in a safe?
Shannon went on to explain how we can all help prevent suicide. One of the best ways to start is to ask questions like, “Are you OK?” and “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?” People often think that talking about it might make it worse, but it’s just the opposite. Asking about suicide reduces the risk by 70 percent. If someone shares that they are in pain and contemplating suicide, validate their pain. Communicate, “I want you to live and I want to help you.”
If you know anyone that is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please seek help. Talk to a counselor or call the Idaho suicide prevention line,1-208-398-4357. Here is a guide to talking to your child about suicide, at any age.