The news that someone committed suicide always leaves us in shock, despair, and depression. Often, we have no warning that someone we know so well or someone so close to us, is contemplating suicide.
Therefore, it is referred to as the silent killer. Suicide in children is even more tragic.
The following are some of the risk factors. (Ref: N Kaslow, 2013, APA):
Previous attempt or attempts
Mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety
Alcohol or other substances
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, loneliness, worthlessness, low self-esteem
Loss of interest in friends, hobbies, or activities previously enjoyed
Bullied or being a bully at school or social settings
Disruptive behaviour, including disciplinary problems at school or at home
High risk behaviours (drinking and driving, poor decision making)
Recent/serious loss (death, divorce, separation, broken relationship)
Family history of suicide
Family violence( domestic violence, child abuse or neglect)
Sexual orientation and identity confusion
Access to means such as firearms, pills, knives, drugs
Stigma associated with seeking mental health services
Barriers to accessing mental health services (finance, transportation).
These are some preventative measures families can consider:
Interact with your child positively (give consistent feedback, compliments for good work)
Increase his/her involvement in positive activities (promote involvement in clubs/sports)
Monitor your child’s whereabouts and their communications (texting, Facebook, Twitter) with the goal of promoting safety
Be aware of your child’s social environment ( people they interact with) , and communicate with other parents
Communicate regularly with your child’s teachers
Limit access to alcohol, prescription pills, illegal drugs, guns and knives
Talk to your child about your concerns including suicidal thoughts
Explain the value of therapy and medication to manage symptoms
Address your concerns with other adults (teachers, family, friends).
Seek professional help as early as possible as a preventative measure.