1. Know the warning signs!
2. Do not be afraid to talk to your child. Talking to your children about suicide WILL NOT PUT thoughts into their head. In fact, all available evidence indicates that talking to your child lowers the risk of suicide.The Message is, “Suicide is not an option, help is available.”
3. Suicide-proof your home. Make the knives, pills and above all the firearms inaccessible.
4. Utilize school and community resources. This can include your school psychologist, crisis intervention personnel, suicide prevention groups or hotlines, or private mental health professionals.
5. Take immediate action. If you child indicates he/she is contemplating suicide, or if your gut instinct tells you they might hurt themselves, get help. Do not leave your child alone. Even if he denies “meaning it.” stay with him. Reassure him . Seek professional help. If necessary drive your child to the hospital’s ER to ensure that she is in a safe environment until a psychiatric evaluation can be completed.
6. Listen to your child’s friends. They may give hints that they are worried about their friend but be uncomfortable telling you directly. Be open . Ask questions.
By Richard Lieberman, Scott Poland and Katherine Cowan.Credit given to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) articles and related handouts can be downloaded at www.naspcenter.org/principals.