• By Dana Sparks

Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents, Public, Media

May 23, 2013

Suicide is third-leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24.  If parents are worried their child may be having suicidal thoughts, it’s no time to tiptoe around the question. Instead, be direct and ask, the physicians advise, and if the answer is yes, do not try to downplay or dismiss the child’s feelings. Seek professional assistance immediately. Mayo Clinic experts have produced two new public service announcements on suicide prevention, and Timothy Lineberry, M.D., a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist says, “If we know anything about suicide, it’s that it is preventable. We believe these public service announcements may help and give parents the tools to talk to their kids and potentially save a life.”

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Lineberry are available in the downloads. 

The two public service announcements include Reach Out — Preventing Teen Suicide, a music video encouraging teens to communicate with an adult for help and support. Teen Suicide Prevention features teens describing common signs a young person may be considering suicide and provides tips on how parents can talk to their children including:

  • If a teen is acting differently, say something. Ask them what is wrong. Directly ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  • It doesn’t hurt to ask, it helps. When people are thinking about killing themselves, they want somebody to ask about them.
  • If they say, “yes,” “maybe” or “sometimes”, don’t say phrases like: “That’s crazy.” “You’re such a drama queen.” “You’re making too much of it.” “That boy isn’t worth killing yourself over.”
  • Instead, you should say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad.” “How can I help?” “We’ll get through this together.” “Let’s keep you safe.”

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