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Parenting in the Rain, Episode 18

When a Child has Suicidal Thoughts

In This Episode:  

Below are some snippets from a conversation with Jonathan Singer, LCSW, Ph.D.  on this episode of Parenting in the Rain podcast.

Jonathan shares that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States.  

“Risk factors” are different than “warning signs” when talking about the issue of suicide.

Risk factors are conditions that increase the person’s chance that they may try to take their life by suicide.  It is important to know that having risk factors doesn’t equate to suicide ideation or intent.

Warning signs are things that let you know that there are foreseeable plans for suicide in the near future.   It’s important that a thorough assessment is done by a mental health professional if warning signs are present.  

Expressing “hopeless” about the future and talking about a plan are some warning signs to be aware of.

It’s important for parents to listen to their children, especially when warning signs are present, and to take it seriously.   Dismissing a child’s warnings signs are not helpful and could be dangerous.

When someone dismisses a child’s thoughts of emotional pain they may interpret the person as conveying “your pain is not a priority to me”.

When adults can determine if the child wants “to die” or just wants “to be happy”, a supportive response can be more aligned with what is the best help for the child during that time.

Parents should seek support from mental health professionals before suicide ideation is present if possible.  

Sometimes the egocentric state that can be present in teenagers due to a natural developmental stage of adolescence can lead them to feel like thoughts of suicide is something that “everyone” has present in their lives and feeling like it is “normal”.  It is important to  concerns relating to suicide early and often.

It’s important to seek assistance from professionals when you suspect suicidal thoughts; parents should not try to figure out how to help their child on their own as even the professionals consult since it can be a complex and is a serious matter.

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the intentional, self-inflicted harm to one’s body.   

If someone is engaging in self-harming behavior, even if believed to be NSSI, a suicide risk assessment should be performed in a professional setting.   

There are many reasons why children engage in self harming behaviors, mental health professionals can perform a suicide risk assessment and help with issues surrounding the self-harming behaviors.

“Postvention” happens after a suicide death to support people as it pertains to prevention of future deaths by suicide and to address the grief and trauma of the bereaved.

Jonathan mentioned a great resource for schools, “After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools” https://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/App_Files/Media/PDF/sprc_online_library.pdf

It’s important to be aware and a part of your child’s social media world to use as your own “megaphone” to communicate helpful information to those in need of it.

Sometimes children have more than one social media account. It’s important to be aware and involved as a parent.

Jonathan mentioned the following quotes:  Carl Rogers’ quote, “Congruence is the key to happiness.”  

And, the quote “Suicide doesn’t take away the pain, it gives it to someone else.”

Hannah’s Heroes  is a non-profit organization with a passionate mission to draw attention to youth suicide prevention. They work with and through community agencies and partners to develop solutions that provide support for their community and prevent other losses.  Visit their website at  http://www.hannahs-heroes.org/ and donate to their cause, Youth Suicide Prevention, if possible.


(Following links to books are affiliate links.)

Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention (School-Based Practice in Action)
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
A Different Kind of Same: A Memoir

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention http://afsp.org/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  – Social Media Guidelines 

Suicide Prevention Social Media 

Jonathan Singer’s Podcast Site 

Jonathan Singer’s Facebook Page

Jonathan Singer’s Twitter Handle: @socworkpodcast

Jonathan Singer’s Linkedin Page


Youth Suicide Prevention Nonprofit (donations are appreciated )