Start the conversation with your child.

Raising a child is the toughest job in the world. Kids face so many challenges and risks today, and it falls to parents to talk with them and keep them safe.

One risk that doesn’t get talked about is the risk of suicide. Sadly, death by suicide has become the second-leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. Suicide rates have risen dramatically in the United States, including Kansas. Between 1999 and 2016, only four states’ suicide rates grew more than Kansas.

As many as four out of five suicidal people signal their intentions to others, hoping it will be noticed. Here are some warning signs that a child or teen may need help.

  • Talking about suicide or death in general
  • Obsession with death – often in music, poetry or artwork
  • Talking about “going away”
  • Referring to things they “won’t be needing” and giving things away
  • A dramatic mood swing from very depressed/suicidal to seemingly being fine
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or guilty
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Drug use, drinking or self-harm
  • Unexplained or unusually severe, violent or rebellious behavior
  • Unusual neglect in appearance or hygiene
  • Feeling sad or depressed for extended periods

Talking to your child or teen about suicide may be difficult, but it could save their life. Just remember…

  • Talking about suicide cannot plant the idea in someone's head! Actually, it can get your child to talk and open up about a scary subject. When we talk about tough topics like suicide, they become less scary. Talking also gives your child permission to bring up the subject again in the future.
  • Parents talk to kids all the time about things like buckling up in the car, avoiding drugs and alcohol and not engaging in risky sexual activity. Parents should talk to their children about any behavior that can put them at risk, including suicide.
  • You should still talk to your child about the risk of suicide, even if they don’t bring it up. Approach it the same way you would another subject that is important to you but may or may not be important to them.


If a child shows signs that they may be considering suicide…

  • Remain calm.
  • Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide. Ask, straight out, "Are you considering suicide?"
  • Focus on your concern for their well-being. Don’t judge them. Listen.
  • Reassure them that there is help and that they will not feel like this forever.
  • Do not leave a suicidal child or teen alone. Stay with them. Remove means for self-harm.
  • Finally, get help! No one should ever agree to keep a youth's suicidal thoughts a secret. Seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Youth in crisis and their families don’t have to go it alone. There are resources available to help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for someone who is suicidal as well as prevention and crisis resources for parents. Call anytime, day or night.

The Crisis Textline: Text “HOME” to 741741
The Crisis Textline also makes it easy to get fast, free help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since the textline was launched in 2013, trained volunteers have taken over 79 million text messages.

Family Service & Guidance Center: 785.232.5005
If you’re starting to worry about your child’s behavior, don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big one. Schedule an appointment with FSGC by calling 785.232.5005 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and ask for Admissions. They will be happy to assist you.

However, if a child is experiencing a mental health emergency and is in danger of hurting themselves or others, FSGC Crisis Services can be reached 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 785.232.5005.