As a parent, it’s natural to worry about the well-being of your children, especially when it comes to their mental health. September is Suicide Prevention Month, a time to shed light on the alarmingly rising rates of teen and young adult suicides. This article aims to help parents of teens and young adults understand the complexities of this issue and empower them with the knowledge to support their children.
Why are Teens and Young Adults Vulnerable?
The world today isn’t the same as the one in which you grew up. With social media, academic pressures, and other societal changes, teens and young adults face unique challenges that contribute to their mental health issues.
All these factors, combined with the normal hormonal changes and identity quests of this age, make their mental landscape especially sensitive. This sensitivity, when not addressed, can sometimes amplify feelings of despair, isolation, or worthlessness. Recognizing these challenges is the first step in understanding and helping them navigate through their unique struggles.
The Warning Signs
It’s important to pay attention to your child’s behavior, as they may be exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts or feelings.
- sudden changes in sleep patterns or appetite
- loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- increased irritability or aggression
- taking risks or engaging in dangerous activities
- withdrawing from friends and family
- an unwillingness to talk about what’s going on or share their feelings
- a tendency to isolate themselves from others
- talking about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- making comments about not wanting to be around anymore
- expressing feelings of guilt or shame
- talking about wanting to hurt themselves
Learn more about signs of suicide from the National Institute of Mental Health. If these signs apply to you or someone you know, please get help as soon as possible.
How to Support Your Child
Your child’s mental health doesn’t have to be a solo journey. They may be struggling but not know how to reach out for help. Here are some tips to help your child get the help they need and provide emotional support.
- Listen Actively: Encourage conversations about their feelings. Let them speak without interruption or immediate solutions. Sometimes, they just need to be heard.
- Watch for Signs: Make sure you are actively looking for warning signs that your child may be struggling.
- Educate Yourself: Knowledge about mental health, available resources, and therapies can provide invaluable support.
- Seek Professional Help: If you suspect that your child might be struggling, it’s essential to seek help from mental health professionals.
- Stay Connected: Spending quality time can help them feel valued and understood. Engage in activities they love, reinforcing their worth and your bond.
The Role of the Community
Apart from parental support, the broader community can play a pivotal role. Schools should foster a supportive environment, with training for teachers to recognize signs of distress. Friends can be trained in peer support and local community centers can hold workshops or provide resources on teen mental health.
Suicide prevention should be a priority, not only during the month of September but also throughout the year. It is important for parents to be actively involved in their children’s lives, to recognize the signs of mental distress, and to provide emotional support. It is also integral for us as a community to come together to create an environment that encourages openness and understanding of mental health issues. Working together, we can make sure no one feels alone in their struggles.
If you or someone you know needs help, please do not hesitate to reach out for professional assistance. Your mental health is important and it’s never too late to get help. Remember, you are not alone!
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988
Chat at 988lifeline.org
Crisis Text Line
Text “HELLO” to 741741