If you are concerned that a teen may be engaging in self-harming behaviour and/or having suicidal thoughts, it is critical that you act on those concerns immediately. Regardless of whether you are a parent, another safe adult, or close friend, reinforce that you are there to listen, support and help. People who receive support from caring family members and friends and who have access to professional support are less likely to act upon suicidal thoughts than those who are more socially isolated.
Signs of Suicidal Thoughts
Changes in sleep
Your child develops sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night or sleeping all the time and avoiding interactions.
Loss of interest and withdrawal
Your child seems more withdrawn, sad, anxious, defensive, angry or secretive. S/he has lost interest in activities normally enjoyed.
Your child acts in ways that are dangerous or damaging and s/he doesn’t seem to care about what happens as a result of the behaviour.
Your child doesn’t seem to be the same person anymore.
Neglect of personal appearance
Your child seriously neglects her/his personal appearance and hygiene.
Your child is drinking alcohol or using other drugs and it looks different than adolescent experimentation.
Your child frequently complains of physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomach aches or headaches.
Giving away belongings
Your child is giving away favourite possessions or throwing away important belongings.
Drastic change in online messaging
See our helping a friend section for more information.
“Getting help is anything but weak. Getting help is for the strong. Hiding and pretending something never happened is the worst thing of all.”
— Ernestine (character from How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells)