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Supporting a child who is thinking of suicide

As a parent, it’s frightening to hear your child talk about suicide and it can be difficult to know how to help.

Teen girl crying and upset, Mum asking her if she has thoughts of suicide

If your child is in immediate danger call 000 and stay with them until they are safe.

If they have a plan for hurting themselves call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

If your child is having thoughts of suicide, it may feel overwhelming but there are ways you can support them

Trust yourself and your instincts and let your child know that you're concerned.

  • Listen to your child without judgement

  • Show them that you care and they're not alone with this

  • Get professional support through a GP, psychologist or counsellor

  • Encourage them to talk to a Kids Helpline counsellor for additional support

As a parent, it might be difficult to tell the difference between warning signs and normal ups and downs for your child

Here are some common warning signs. But if you're unsure, reach out for support.

Withdrawing from others  

Self-harming

Hints they're thinking about suicide such as “I’d like to go to sleep and never wake up”

Talking about feeling worthless, hopeless, alone, being a burden to others or having no reason to live

Talking about death or suicide (even in a joking way)

Dramatic changes in mood including being suddenly happy

Not doing things they used to enjoy

Increased drug or alcohol use

Giving away possessions or saying goodbye

Having the means to end their life such as medication or weapons

As a parent, you can be your child’s greatest source of support

How you can help your child with thoughts of suicide:

Take warning signs seriously
Listen and show them you care
Be direct when asking them about suicide
Be open to talking about their suicidal thoughts
Keep checking in on their wellbeing
Help your child get professional support

“Know that it's okay not to have all the answers: just listen, be patient, show them you care and help them get professional support.” –  Samuel, 22

Hearing that your child is having suicidal thoughts is distressing and it's likely to have a big impact on you.

You're not expected to be their counsellor or to know exactly what to do. Reaching out for professional support is important for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your child.  

Here are some more counselling and crisis support options:

  • Call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people up to the age of 25)

  • Call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 (for people over the age of 15)

  • Make an appointment to see a GP, psychologist or counsellor

  • Give Parentline a call in your local State or Territory

This content was last reviewed 14/02/2018

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