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Help for Parents of Teens Who Attempt Suicide

by Anna Green

A suicide attempt is a crisis that can create trauma for the entire family. With your efforts to help your teen cope with her psychological struggles, you may be feeling emotionally exhausted yourself, and you might need emotional support. Likewise, you may struggle to understand why your teen attempted suicide and what you can do to help keep her stable and safe, explains the Feeling Blue Suicide Prevention Council. Because of these concerns, reaching out to other parents of suicide-attempt survivors and to mental health professionals can help you maintain a healthy family system and optimistic outlook.

Support Groups

Many communities have support groups specifically designed for parents who have children who have attempted or completed suicide. Additionally, if your child has a mental health diagnosis such as depression, anorexia or bipolar disorder, many hospitals and community mental health centers offer parental support groups designed to address these specific conditions. These groups will allow you to share your experiences, fear and emotions, as well as learn about the dynamics of suicidal behavior, advises the group Grief Speaks.

Professional Therapy

Family therapy can be a valuable tool once your teen has stabilized, and has returned to your home. Although your adolescent’s suicidal behavior may stem from her own personal emotional issues rather than from family dynamics, working with a therapist as a family unit can help you strengthen your family bonds, and open lines of communication between you and your teen. In addition to family therapy, some parents may benefit from individual therapy. This can be particularly valuable if you witnessed your teen’s suicide attempt or if your teenager blames you for her behavior.

Advocacy Groups

Many professional advocacy groups provide information on the causes of suicide and on suicide prevention techniques. Further, these groups offer advocacy and outreach efforts, which can help you connect with other families who also have suicidal teens. Working with other families can help you develop a sense of purpose from your crisis. Some of these groups include the American Association of Suicidology, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Crisis Intervention Services

To provide your family with a sense of safety and security after a suicidal crisis, identify resources in your community that can intervene if your child develops new suicidal plans or suicidal ideation, which is to think about or imagine planning a suicide attempt. Many areas have mobile crisis support services that can come to your home, assess your child, and attempt to stabilize the situation. If your community does not offer these services, crisis hotlines, such as the National Suicide Lifeline, can connect both you and your child to immediate support and care.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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