What are some warning signs a child may be thinking about suicide?

  • Talking about suicide and about what it would be like if they were gone.
    • “When I’m gone…”
    • “What would it be like if I wasn’t around?”
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness.
    • “I’m no good to anybody.”
    • “It would be easier for you if I wasn’t here.”
    • “No one cares about me.”
    • “I wish I was never born.”
  • Seem hopeless about the future.
    • “What’s the use?”
    • “It doesn’t matter for me anyway.”
    • “Things are never going to work out for me.”
  • Become preoccupied with giving away their belongings.

How can you respond?

  • Ask about suicide directly, using language the child understands.
    • Start gently and slowly, by asking general questions:
      • “How are you feeling?”
      • “How have things been at school?”
      • “How have things been going with your friends?”
    • If your child shows signs that they may be suicidal or engaging in non-suicidal self-injury:
      • Express your concerns: “I love you and I’m worried about you.”
      • Say what you’re noticing: “It seems like things have been stressful for you lately.”
      • Bring up suicide: “Do you feel like your life isn’t worth living?
      • Ask directly: “Have you ever thought of a way that you would hurt or kill yourself?
    • If your child shows signs that they are suicidal and have a plan to end their life:
      • Ask about thoughts of suicide including intention and plan.
      • Seek professional help while keeping your child safe.
        • Don’t leave your child alone.
        • Contact a crisis line and/or schedule a visit for mental health services.
      • Call 911 if you cannot keep your child safe.
    • Get support for yourself.
      • Find a network of support with family or friends.
      • Share that your child is at risk only with those who should know.
      • Schedule a visit for mental health services for yourself.

Make your home a safer place.

  • Identify settings and times of the day that may be hard for your child and make plans to help.
  • Increase supervision of the child.
    • Monitor time in private spaces such as bathrooms.
    • Keep the bedroom doors open.
    • Keep car keys with an adult.
  • Make time and show desire for communication.
    • Plan fun family activities.
    • Ask your child how they are doing.
    • Give your child space to feel their emotions.
  • Remove or lock potentially dangerous items.
    • This includes any knives, weapons, razors, ropes, cords, scissors, etc.
    • Guns should be locked in a firearms cabinet.
    • Remove or lock up alcohol, as it can lead to impulsive behavior.
  • Remove or lock medications (prescription and non-prescription).
    • Ask the doctor to prescribe only safe amounts of medications.
    • Watch children when they take medication.
    • Take all unused medications to your pharmacy for disposal.

Resources & Professionals to Contact in a Crisis:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Text the Crisis Text Line: 741741
  • Or chat online at: org
  • NorthKey Community Care 24/7 Crisis Line: 859-331-3292