Many do not know this because it is something no one wants to broadcast, but Utah in 2019 was ranked 5th in the nation for the highest suicide rates. It is the leading cause in death for our teenagers who are 10-17 years in age.
I often hear from parents when I talk to them about their kids suicidal thoughts: That's not my kid, they'll never do something like that. They just are saying that for the attention. They are doing it because all their friends are doing it.
Personally, I get it... suicide was once never a topic that we had to deal with. It was something that we heard about from distant friends or in movies. So, I can see where the lack of understanding comes from.
Professionally, I will say that suicide is real. It is happening. People are attempting more and more each day and having more success than ever before. It is not a scene from a movie. It is something that your teen is dealing with, on a daily basis. There is one suicide death every 12 minutes in the U.S and for every 25 attempts there is 1 success.
So, what do we do? Well, one we HAVE to talk about it.
Fact: People who die from suicide did not kill themselves because they wanted to die.
Most people who have suicidal thoughts are in so much pain and feel so helpless that they can no longer take the pain they have felt. In most cases they have reached out for help to family and friends but they were not heard, validated or understood. In some cases, people do not feel that they can turn to anyone because they already feel like a burden.
Myth: Talking about suicide will only encourage it and give people more ideas.
Many, many, many people believe this statement but the truth is that if we talk about it more we actually are reducing the stigma! If more people shared their "mental health" stories with each other then we would not all feel so alone.
How do I talk about this?
1. That person does not want you to fix the problems for them.
They just want someone to listen and help them through it. So, when you are talking to someone about their feelings, first step -- close your mouth & open your ears! Remember you DO NOT get to tell someone their feelings are wrong. That is not your decision to make. You might not agree with them but try to put yourself in their shoes and understand why those feelings are there.
2. Ask them questions!
How long has this been going on? Who have you talked to about this? Did something happen to begin to make you feel like this? What can I do to best support you with this? What do you need from me? Can you tell me what that's like for you?
3. Validate! Validate! Validate!
I can see how you would feel that way. I don't know exactly what you are going through, but I know I have felt similar. This must be so hard for you. I am here with you. I support you. We will get through this together. This is not your fault.
4. DO NOT do these things -->
Especially, as parents we want to talk or be logical to our kids. Explain things rationally to them to help get them out of this funk. Well, suicide and feelings of hopeless and worthless are NOT logic, they are emotion. So, do not shame, guilt trip, invalidate, mock, or ignore this topic!
5. Get them HELP!
There are many immediate resources that a person can use to help those who are struggling.
1. Any local ER can take them and complete a mental health assessment to recommend the next steps.
University of Utah's Neuropsychiatric Unit: https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/ - Call the crisis number at 801-587-3000.
Behavioral Health Access Center at LDS Hospital: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/locations/lds-hospital/medical-services/behavioral-health/behavioral-health-access-center/
2. Call the Suicide Lifeline - 24 Hours a day - 800-273-8255
3. Text "HOME" to 741741- Available all day, everyday as well.
4. Get them into therapy. Don't tell them to look for a therapist. Look with them. Find one together. Set up a few appointments for them to test out different people and see who they are comfortable with.
Suicide does not have to be an option. We can lessen the stigma to this avoided topic. We have to band together though. There are always people that will listen. Speak up! Ask questions! Do not let others go feeling left alone, abandoned and as if they are a burden.