The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports suicide is one of the leading causes of death among children and young adults ages 10 to 24 years, occurring at a rate of:
- 14 out of 100 in youth ages 15 to 19
- 8 out of 100 children ages 10 to 14
One study found the most common precursors for suicidal behavior in youth are:
- Familial stressors, such as divorce or parental discord
- Relationship difficulties with a love interest
- Problems at school, such as bullying
While this information may seem grim, there is hope. Suicidal behavior is often a result of an underlying issue(s), such as:
- Substance abuse
- Traumatic stress
As with other chronic illness, these can be managed with the right help.
One method is strengthening one’s proactive factors. Proactive factors are a person’s resources. There are many ways this can be done, such as:
- Accessing quality and effective care for your child’s mental health or substance abuse issue
- Using community supports, such as AA, school, or a Big Brother/Big Sister program, to help your child learn healthy coping and problem solving skills
- Approaching your loved one from a place of understanding and support
As a caregiver it is important for you to do things to take care of yourself. Some self-care activities are:
- Eating healthy
- Taking a hot bath
- Taking a nap
- Going to yoga or mindfulness class
- Talking to a trusted friend
This not only models healthy behavior for your loved ones, it also provides a needed relief from the stresses of caring from someone who suffers from a mental illness or substance abuse.
It is equally important to understand that it is normal to experience a range of emotions when your loved one has attempted to cause self-harm. You may feel:
- Shock or disbelief
Please remember that whatever you feel, you are not to blame for what has happened. Many people find counseling or therapy services helpful when learning to come to terms with what has happened.
What to Tell Others
The decision about what to tell others is unique to each person and family. SOme people and families want to limit their communication with the outside world. Other people find that sharing their experience is helpful.
Think about your loved one's comfort level. Unfortunately, mental illness is still very misunderstood. So, your loved one may not feel safe having this information shared. Listen and support your loved one, even if you do not understand their decision(s).
"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today."-Thich Nhat Hahn