Life can be overwhelming, filled with feelings of sadness, anger, and doubt. For children especially, these feelings can be so strong that suicide may seem like the only way to make them stop. No matter how bad you feel, it's important to understand that you're never alone, and there's always another way out. There are people who want to help, and people who would be devastated to lose you. If someone you know is thinking about suicide, it's important to know how to give and find help.
People who are thinking about suicide may do or say things they've never done before. Avoiding friends and family and stopping activities they usually enjoy are common warning signs. They might noticeably gain or lose weight and have problems with sleeping too much or too little. Others might talk about death a lot or even tell you that they've thought about killing themselves. Other warning signs include, skipping school, suddenly getting poor grades, and expressing extreme sadness or anger.
Suicide is preventable. Once you've seen the signs that a friend or a classmate may be suicidal, it's time to do something about it. Tell them you're concerned and ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Don't guess or wait to see if they get better. If you find out a friend is suicidal or simply suspect they might be, go to a trusted adult and tell them what's happening. Don't keep it a secret or try to change their mind alone. The situation is too risky and complex to manage alone.
There are about 4600 lives lost to suicide in the US each year. Young people who are between the ages of 10 and 24 years old make up 14% of suicides in the United States. Suicide is the second largest cause of death for kids between 10 and 14 years old. Four out of five teens who committed suicide had given clear warning signs of their intentions.
After someone has attempted suicide, it's important to show them kindness and support. To do that, let them know that you're still their friend. Let them do the talking and just be there to listen. Be careful not to say anything that might make them feel bad or guilty about the attempt. In the immediate aftermath, don't ask why they did it or try to reinforce how much they have to live for, which can leave them feeling guilty and worse. Keep looking for warning signs they might still be suicidal and tell their parents if you think they might hurt themselves again. While supporting your friend, you might also feel some anger or other strong feelings. These feelings are normal, and something you and your friend will have to work through, but it's best to make sure your friend is stable and recovered from their attempt before confronting these feelings with them. If you want to discuss your feeling with your friend, it's best to get the guidance of a counselor or therapist on how to proceed.