Supporting teen suicide survivors
With teens currently stressed about how school will go in the fall and removed from their social circles, this can be a trying time at home navigating change in schedule and being near family for long durations, especially, at an age they are growing in independence.
This can cause more feelings of isolation, feeling misunderstood and cause additional stress on teens with existing mental health concerns. Parents need to be aware of how their teen is managing and how to help, especially if their teen is a suicide survivor.
With the possible added anxiety of COVID-19, Dr. Huma Khan, an adolescent medicine expert with Advocate Medical Group, shares some thoughts on how loved ones can support the suicide survivors in their life and help prevent another attempt.
- Therapy care. Make sure your teen has established care with a therapist who they can see regularly. Depression is a chronic condition and depressed teens can have their ups and downs. It’s important to have an established mental health provider who can be there for support at any time, not just during a crisis. Most therapists offer telephone or video visits.
- Support groups. Teen suicide support groups can also be helpful. They usually meet on a monthly basis and are free of charge (suicide.org).
- Takes a village. Develop a safety network for your teen. Make sure your teen has people from their school, close friends and at home who understand their mental health history and risks. This network can help monitor your teen and intervene if they seem like they need help.
- Safety plan. Have a step-by-step safety plan for your teen for times that they may feel suicidal. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always a good resource.
“Teens at risk for suicide need a strong support network, including family, friends, educators, health care providers, and behavioral specialists who are closely monitoring symptoms and changes in behavior,” says Dr. Khan, “Teens struggling with depression also need an established safety plan outlining who to inform if suicidal thoughts return.”
About the Author
Jennifer Benson, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Aurora Health. She has 10+ years of community development and communication experience for non-profits and has a BA in Architecture from Judson University in Elgin, IL. Outside of work, you can find her planning the next adventure near water or rocks, re-organizing spaces, working on her Master’s in Public Health, caring for her senior citizen cat, keeping to healthy moving and eating disciplines and growing green things wherever she can find room.