“Let me know if I can do something for you!”
“I’m here for you!”
“Don’t hesitate to call me if you need anything!”
We’ve all been there, and we are doing it wrong.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people age 15-24 and that should be the most terrifying statistic you ever read. When you have knowledge that someone is feeling depressed or feeling suicidal, don’t rely on them to call you if they need something. Step it up and reach out and ask questions like “How are you feeling?” “How are you coping?” “What can I do to help?” “Let’s take a walk.” “I’d like to take you out for coffee.”
“Dad, you got a minute?”
“Hey son, as soon as this game is over, give me 30 minutes and I’ll be right with you.”
What if that was the moment he finally got the courage to ask you for help? To tell you he was feeling depressed and helpless. For the next 30 minutes he talks himself out of it, convincing himself he would be a burden to ask for help. Reminding himself you are too busy to talk, will you be too busy to help me? Be the person your child feels safe coming to.
Be present. Be purposeful about spending time with teens without distractions of the phone, t.v., etc. Talk about Mental Health.
Role model taking care of your own mental health.
Ask teens how they are feeling, notice when they are not acting like themselves.
“My friend isn’t acting like themselves. They have been really emotional and distancing themselves from the friend group. Once I even heard them say they feel like everyone would be better off if they were dead.”
“They will reach out if they need something, they know we are always here for them.”
Again, take the step and speak up. When someone is experiencing symptoms of depression, believing they will reach out if they are feeling suicidal is a risk. Ask your friend how they are feeling. Gently point out that you notice a change in them. Ask if you can help them find a trusted adult they can speak with. It’s always to have a mad friend than a dead friend. Tell an adult.
“Are you feeling suicidal?”
“Do you have a plan?”
As scary as those two questions feel for you right now, they are necessary. In my experience, youth that have thought about a specific suicide method, won’t hesitate to share that with you- if you ask. Of the 34 people who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, all 34 have one thing in common. All 34 people report the second their fingertips left the rail, they had instant regret and wanted to live.
How are you feeling?
How can I help you?
Would you like to go for a walk, or sit and have coffee?
How are you coping?
Who do you lean on for support?
Would you be willing to speak with a therapist?
Your track record of surviving the worst days of your life is 100%!
Up until this point, you have chosen to live life on purpose.
Resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary - we ALL possess the ability to overcome.
You are so good at that, can you teach me?
I’m happy to have you around.
You should be so proud of yourself!
I am proud of you.
It’s ok to not be ok.
Carrie E. Conte, LCSW is the Community Initiatives Program Manager, overseeing ICAN's school-based programs and providing clinical supervision to over 40 of our Providers. In addition to these roles, Carrie works within the training and education department where she and the director have delivered several presentations on the national, state, and local levels. Carrie has worked for ICAN as a clinician since 2015. Carrie's favorite role is "Aunt Carrie" to several nieces and nephews.