Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X

CHKD Blog

Teenage girl sitting outdoors on the staircase covering her head with sweatshirt hood

Suicide Prevention: Take 5 to Save Lives

Author: Sam Fabian
Published Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Each of us has the power to prevent suicide. This September, a new social media campaign for National Suicide Prevention Month – Take 5 to Save Lives – empowers each of us to help prevent suicide by taking five simple specific steps. Although no parent wants to think about their child feeling suicidal or struggling with their mental health, it’s important to talk about it. Growing up has always presented challenges, but today, life seems more complicated than ever before. Anxiety, depression, and youth suicide rates have been on the rise for the last decade. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10 to 24.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a scenario where our youth spend more time online to play, work, interact with friends, go to school, and fill downtime. Being caught up in a digital world can make it more difficult to see the signs that your child has increased feelings of distress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Obvious signs, like changes in routine or inactivity, may not be as apparent due to the time spent online and the isolation COVID-19 has created.

There are signs, however, that can signal when your child or someone you know is considering suicide, especially during times of physical distancing.

  • Look for changes in your child’s tone, language, and time of day when texting, talking, or posting online. Initiate conversation about their online activity with questions like, “How was your day online?” or “Have you seen any interesting posts from your friends?”
  • Look for changes in the frequency and content they are posting online. Look out for posts that indicate hopelessness: “This is the last time I will … ”
  • Notice if your child stops doing what they love, such playing an instrument, drawing, writing, or playing a sport.
  • In addition to the above, watch for changes in energy levels or appetite, use of drugs or alcohol, mood swings, trouble sleeping or relaxing, frequent headaches or stomachaches, heightened worrying or anxiety, and giving things away to siblings or friends.

If you, your child, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, here are five steps to take:

1.) Learn the Signs. Contact a mental health professional or hotline if you see someone exhibiting one or more of the signs mentioned above. Call 911 or the emergency service number if you see or hear your child or someone threaten to hurt or kill themselves or expressing that they want to die or hurt someone else.

2). Know How to Help. If someone is exhibiting signs of mental distress, or talking about or threatening to hurt or kill themselves, take it seriously. Ask if they are thinking about suicide, listen without judgment, respond with kindness and care, and be sure to follow up to support their transition from crisis to recovery. Do not promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

3.) Practice Self-Care. This involves practicing good emotional hygiene. Be mindful of your experiences that cause emotional pain and practice self-compassion. Avoid negative repetitive thoughts. Make time for family, friends, and for yourself to recharge with positive energy. Eating well and adequate sleep nourishes the body and positively affects mood and overall mental wellness.

4.) Reach Out. Everyone needs help and support now and then. Check in with your child and family members regularly. Do not be afraid to talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. Those who have suicidal thoughts should be connected to ongoing supports. Lifeline, which can be reached by calling (800) 273-TALK (8255), is a suicide hotline that can help establish a safety net for those moments when an individual finds themselves in a crisis. In addition, your child can text the word HOME to 741741 to establish a chat with a trained crisis counselor. CHKD’s (757) 668-HOPE (4673) line can assist parents in identifying local resources and services for their child during business hours.

5.) Spread The Word. Share this link with at least five people to promote the Take 5 suicide prevention campaign. Register to watch the free Upstanders film about building resiliency and stopping bullying on September 30, 2021. A live Q&A after the showing will feature experts from the film, CHKD, and Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

For more information about mental health services at CHKD, visit CHKD.org/MentalHealth.



Like this post?

Get parenting inspiration and encouragement delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for our once monthly email.

About Sam Fabian

About Sam   Fabian Community outreach program manager Sam Fabian oversees parent education and outreach programs at CHKD. She coordinates CHKD conferences and special events and collaborates with community boards and coalitions. She also develops programmatic partnerships with local schools, recreation centers and clubs and civic organizations.