After our recent series on bullying, we felt there was a need to follow up with even more specific information on teen suicide. This four part series is authored by Heather Harlan of Phoenix Programs, Inc. Heather's credentials include CRPS, Certified Reciprocal Prevention Specialists, ACRA (Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach) Certified Substance Abuse Therapist/ Supervisor, and GAIN (Global Appraisal of Individual Needs) Certified Administrator/Trainer.
Part Three: Talking with Parents
Let’s say you have identified a youth in your circle who has confided in you (as an example), “Yes, I’m thinking of killing myself; I’m planning to use a gun; I know dad’s gun cabinet is unlocked and where he keeps his ammo.” (Suicidal thought, plan and access = emergency.)
What to tell the parents?
• Communicate with the youth in a calm/caring way your concerns and what you will tell his/her parent/caregiver. Don’t leave him/her alone.
• Invite youth to be present when you tell parent/caregiver of your concerns so everyone has the same information, and s/he won’t be alone.
• Offer to help with referral to care—if threat seems immediate (such as answering “yes” to suicidal thought, plan AND access), go with them to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
• If threat seems less urgent (answering “yes” to thinking of hurting her/himself) suggest a mental health screening ASAP with a trained mental health counselor or a family doctor who could assist with a referral.
• Follow-up to see how they are doing—visit the youth, hospitalized or not, and the parents/caregiver.
• If the youth is in your care, and parent/caregiver is not available, handle as you would any other medical emergency.
Want to know more? Read part one and part two of this series.