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Thinking about or planning to take your own life is called suicidal ideation.
Suicide is often the result of many factors. These will differ from child to child. Many children are having problems coping with stress. They may feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
They may also have a mental health problem such as depression. This can cause suicidal thoughts alone. It can also make stress much worse.
Chances of suicidal ideation are higher if a child has:
It's also higher for:
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A child who is thinking about suicide may:
They may also be:
These can happen without suicidal ideations. But, if someone you know has these signs, try to talk to them to find out what's going on. Asking about these feelings will not push someone to take their own life. But, it may help save them.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it is vital to seek help right away. There are many suicide hotlines to help. They will give out information for friends and family of someone thinking about suicide.
If the risk high, call for emergency services right away. Risk is high if the person has a thought-out plan to take their own life or can get items that can cause harm.
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. Other people in the family may also be questioned.
Your child will have a psychological exam. You and they will answer questions about their mental health.
Your child may be treated in a hospital. This is mainly true if they are at high risk or have tried to take their own life.
Single, family, or group therapy will be used to help handle suicidal thoughts.
The goals of care are:
To help lower your child's chances of suicidal ideation:
American Psychiatric Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Depression in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906140/Depression-in-children-and-adolescents. Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Gliatto M, Rai A. Evaluation and treatment of patients with suicidal ideation. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(6):1500-1506.
Harkavy-Friedman J. Learning more about suicidal ideation. National Alliance on Mental Illness website. Available at: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2017/Learning-More-About-Suicidal-Ideation. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Help for suicidal thoughts. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide. Updated February 27, 2018. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Klonsky ED, May AM, Glenn CR. The relationship between nonsuicidal self-injury and attempted suicide: converging evidence from four samples. J Abnorm Psychol. 2013;122(1):231-237.
Victor SE, Klonsky ED. Correlates of suicide attempts among self-injuries: a meta analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2014;34(4):282-297.
Warning signs of suicide. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education site. Available at: https://save.org/about-suicide/warning-signs-risk-factors-protective-factors. Accessed September 4, 2018.
We can all prevent suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Available at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 9/4/2018