Counselors Urge Parents To Talk To Kids About Suicide

Wednesday, September 26th 2012, 7:38 pm

Counselors say parents can use the coverage about what happened in Stillwater to start a conversation with their own children.

Suicide is the second largest cause of death in Oklahoma among kids between 15 to 24 years old

Suicide experts say all parents need to have a conversation with children about suicide beginning around when children are 9 or 10 years old.

"Talk to your kids about it, don't be afraid to talk about it, don't avoid it, kids will know," said Danny Van Curen. 

9/26/12 Related Story: Community Reacts To Stillwater Junior High Student's Death

In fact, experts say suicide is a word that shouldn't be whispered.

"I would not make it taboo in your family. Ask them what they think," said Van Curen.

David Harris, the Director of the Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health,  says parents should pick a time when they won't be interrupted and even rehearse what you're going to say.

"We encourage parents to be honest as well and say this is difficult for me to talk about as well."

He says young people are typically not equipped to deal a crisis

"You need to be direct and honest and say suicide is a very serious matter and ask them if they ever have a reason to think that that's something they're considering, to please come to their parents. And if they don't feel comfortable coming to their parents, maybe there's a trusted adult they feel comfortable going to. If they don't realize there's hope, they may think this is the only solution."

9/26/12 Related Story: Student Dies From Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound At Stillwater Junior High School

Harris also says to encourage your kids listen to their friends, and to tell someone if they think they may be considering suicide. According to Harris, the leading reasons for suicide among young people are depression, substance abuse, or if a family member or someone close to them has died of suicide.

But there are things parents can watch for: if your child starts giving away their prized possessions, if they start talking about death, if there is a change in behavior, if their grades start dropping or if they lose interest in things they used to be excited about.

"Rarely does someone just wake up and they're instantly suicidal. Usually there are a magnitude of things that have contributed you hear about bullying quite a bit, but there's usually a multitude of things going one," said Harris.

Harris says a great resource for parents is the Suicide Prevention Resource Center:

The suicide prevention hotline is 1800-273-TALK.