POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 87 SUICIDE IN CHILDREN AND YOUTH: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS If You Are Worried Your Child May be Feeling Suicidal Talk to your loved one openly about suicide. Do not be afraid to ask. You might gently lead into things by asking some general questions: E.g. You might start by saying, "How are you doing?", and then remember to give your loved one a chance to respond! You might then express your concerns, e.g. you might say "I love and I'm worried about you these days." You might then ask, "It seems like things have been stressful for you lately." A nice gentle way to bring up the topic of suicide is then to say, "Does it ever get so stressful that you think life isn't worth living?" If your child says yes, then you might proceed to ask, "Do you get any thoughts of doing something to end your life?" If your child says YES to this, then seek immediate professional help. This may include: l Calling 911 l Calling a telephone crisis line l Calling a friend or doctor And even if your child says "no" when you directly ask about thoughts of suicide, trust your instincts. If you are worried your child is in immediate danger of ending his/her life, then get help. Ways to Support Someone Who is Passively Suicidal If your child is not actively suicidal, but is nonetheless still having thoughts that life is not worth living, here are some possible things you might do: First of all, seek professional help. Be a support, but remember that you are not a counsellor/therapist. Listen and validate what your loved one is saying. • Thank the other person for sharing with you. "I didn't know you feeling so bad... Thanks for telling me." • Empathize, which means that you agree and acknowledge how bad the person feels, e.g. "Yeah, I can see that would be very difficult." Don't say things such as "You shouldn't be feeling this way" or "You should count yourself lucky" because that may make the person feel guilty, and less likely to open up to you. • Don't invalidate or judge the other person for how they are feeling, even if you yourself wouldn't feel the same way. Don't say things such as... "How can you possibly feel this way? After all that we've done for you? Is this the way you repay us? How can you do this to us?" Such blame will most likely make your child feel worse, making it less likely that s/he will confide in you. And worse, in some cases such statements will only confirm to the child that s/he is a burden, increasing the risk of suicide. • Give hope. "This is going to get better. Things were better in the past; we'll get it back to how it was when things were better." • Tell the person they are not alone. "We're in this one together; we're going to help you get over this." • Offer your support, e.g. "How can I support you? How can I help you get over this?" • Help the person with problem-solving. People often think about suicide when they are overwhelmed by stress. And ►