Plan for death, such as by giving away favorite items
Withdraw from family and friends
The child may also be:
Having problems staying focused
Doing poorly in school
Uninterested in activities, such as school and hobbies
Causing self-harm, such as cutting or burning
Losing or gaining weight
Sleeping too little or too much
Changing how they look or not care about hygiene
Using alcohol or drugs
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. Other people in the family may also be questioned. Physical and mental health exams may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Treatment is needed right away. A 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:
Get treated for any mental, physical, and substance abuse problems
Make it harder to get items that may be used for self-harm
Build a support system of family, friends, and mental health experts
Build skills in problem solving, dealing with conflicts, and handling problems through nonviolent means
To lower a child's risk of suicidal ideation:
Follow treatment plans for mental health problems.
Teach children to avoid drugs and alcohol.
Encourage children to talk about problems coping with stress.
Make it harder for them to get items that may be used for self-harm.
Depression in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906140/Depression-in-children-and-adolescents. Accessed November 20, 2020.
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 November 20, 2020.
Help for suicidal thoughts. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide. Accessed September 4, 2020.
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 November 20, 2020.
We can all prevent suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Available at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide. Accessed November 20, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/16/2021
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