Tips for talking to children about suicide prevention

Although this is a difficult topic to talk about, it is a very important topic, as there are approximately 130 suicides a day in the United States.

GREENWOOD, Ind. — September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Although this is a difficult topic to talk about, it is a very important topic, as there are approximately 130 suicide deaths per day in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. .

WTHR spoke with education expert Jennifer Brinker of Greenwood Middle School about ways parents can talk to kids about the crisis.

Matthew Fultz – WTHR: Mrs. Brinker, this is obviously very concerning for parents: how common is this problem?

Ms Brinker: Well, I think it’s important to note that suicide is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 15 and 24, and a recent study showed that almost 20% of high school students said they had suicidal thoughts. It is extremely important to be able to have conversations with your child and to know what to pay attention to.

Matthew Fultz – WTHR: What kinds of warning signs can parents look out for?

Ms Brinker: Honestly, no major changes. These can include changes in appearance, changes in grades, withdrawing from activities they previously enjoyed, beginning to experiment with drugs or alcohol, and obviously self-harm.

Matthew Fultz – WTHR: So if you’re a parent and you notice some of these things, what do you do?

Ms Brinker: I’ll tell you what not to do and that’s ignore it. Communication is essential. There’s a myth that talking about suicide plants that idea in kids’ heads, but that’s not true. Your children need to be able to talk with you. You know your child better than anyone, so trust your instincts if you feel something is wrong and ask your child for a checkup. The cost of overreaction is far less serious than inaction.

Matthew Fultz – WTHR: You talked about self-harm earlier. What would you say to those who say these are just attention-seeking behaviors?

Ms Brinker: Although things like clipping are more common than ever, that doesn’t mean it’s not a very serious problem. If a child has to resort to these measures to get attention, he needs serious help… professional help.

Matthew Fultz – WTHR: What are schools doing to help deal with this crisis?

Ms Brinker: Schools have had to deal with this crisis as we see younger and younger students self-harming and having suicidal thoughts. We need to work with students to be able to recognize and understand their feelings and give them tools to help them stay regulated. Increasingly, schools can help parents by lining up counseling during the school day through contracts with mental health agencies like Adult and Child. We are also trained every year on suicide prevention, so we learn these warning signs and the best ways to intervene.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call or text 988 or go to to reach the suicide and crisis helpline. Click here for more resources available through the National Alliance for Mental Health.

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