Suicidal Thoughts in Your Teen: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Most teens who think about suicide don't want to die. They think suicide will solve their problems and end their pain. People who consider suicide often feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. These ideas can make a person feel that there is no other choice.

Anytime your child talks about suicide or about wanting to die or disappear, even in a joking manner, take him or her seriously. Don't be afraid to talk to him or her about it. When you know what your child is thinking, you may be able to help.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Talk to your child often so you know how he or she feels.
  • Make sure that your child attends all counselling sessions recommended by the doctor. Professional counselling is an important part of treatment for depression.
  • Put away sharp or dangerous objects. Remove guns from the house. Also remove medicines that are not being used.
  • Keep the number for your nurse call line or your provincial suicide prevention hotline on or near your phone.
  • Encourage your child not to drink alcohol or use drugs.
  • If your child has a plan for suicide and a way to carry out that plan, don't leave him or her alone. Call 911.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child makes threats or attempts to hurt himself or herself.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child hears voices.
  • Your child has depression and:
    • Starts to give away his or her possessions.
    • Uses illegal drugs or drinks alcohol heavily.
    • Talks or writes about death, including writing suicide notes and talking about guns, knives, or pills.
    • Starts to spend a lot of time alone.
    • Acts very aggressively or suddenly appears calm.

Talk to a counsellor or doctor if your child has any of the following problems for 2 or more weeks.

  • Your child feels sad a lot or cries all the time.
  • Your child has trouble sleeping or sleeps too much.
  • Your child finds it hard to concentrate, make decisions, or remember things.
  • Your child changes how he or she normally eats.
  • Your child feels guilty for no reason.

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