A Counseling Guide to Youth Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a serious issue that affects many people, including youth. It is a difficult topic for many to discuss, but it is so important that we overcome that difficulty and bring awareness to the issue. The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which looks at the life of a teenage girl who dies by suicide after being bullied and sexually assaulted, has opened the eyes of many viewers and has sparked discussion with children regarding youth suicide. Suicide can be a complicated thing to understand, and while the reasons behind someone attempting suicide vary, this series can be very eye-opening and provides a lot of insight into the challenges that teens face today.

As parents, educators, or simply adults in a world filled with teenage turmoil, it is important to recognize the signs of a child who may be suicidal beforehand so that they can get the help they need. Everyone should learn the warning signs and be made aware of the underlying causes that can trigger suicide in our youth. In many situations, suicide can be prevented if the person struggling gets the help they need in time.

Warning Signs
Recognizing the potential warning signs of suicide is the first step in preventing it from happening. Although not all signs mean that a person will follow through with the act, they should definitely prompt action. Teens who become depressed or withdrawn may be contemplating suicide. A drastic change in actions or appearance or a sudden start to drug or alcohol use are alarming signs as well. If someone who loved to play a particular sport or enjoyed a hobby abruptly stops, it is concerning. Suddenly giving away their belongings is another possible sign. Other potential signs of suicidal thoughts include speaking poorly of themselves, feeling as if they are a burden, feelings of despair, or mentioning suicide in regard to themselves or just in general conversation.

If you notice suicidal signs in your child, a student, or any young person you are around, it is important that you take the situation seriously. Although not all suicide attempts can be stopped, there are things we can all do to prevent it from happening. Reach out to the other adults in the child’s life (parents, counselors, or teachers) and let them know about your concerns. Speak directly to the child who you are concerned about and ask them how they are feeling. Express your worries and the signs you see in them. Let them know you are concerned. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Offer support in any way that they need or want. Help them get counseling. Listen to them, and hear what they are saying without blame, shock, or judgment. Let them freely speak and share what they are feeling. And most importantly, call for help if you think it has reached the level of an emergency.

Get Help

Getting help for someone who is suicidal is key to preventing it from happening today or in the future. There are many options for help, including counseling, medication, treatment centers, and emergency hotlines. Know what the options are, and seek advice from professionals. Many counselors are trained specifically to handle thoughts of suicide, and they can be your greatest resource in discovering the best options for your situation. No matter what, get help before the situation becomes so dire that you can’t prevent a traumatic outcome.

Suicide awareness is crucial in preventing it from happening. Recognizing the signs and understanding the possible triggers are essential to saving lives. Be aware of bullying. Understand that unlike when you were a child, the children of today don’t escape bullying when they leave school; they deal with it on social media and can constantly be bombarded with harassment. Realize that although you may cope with a situation with little to no problem, a teen may feel very different and even be majorly affected by that same scenario. Thankfully, there are many resources available to bring awareness to the subject as well to get help for those at risk. Take advantage of these resources and get help for anyone who may be in danger.

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