Many school systems have begun to work with students on understanding their emotional needs, which includes talking about suicide. According to the CDC, “Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 20-34” in 2021. In addition, “A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking at mental health and suicidal behaviors from 2011 to 2021 indicates that 13% of high school girls had attempted suicide (30% had seriously considered it)”.
These are alarming statistics. It’s even more alarming when, as a parent, you receive a phone call from your child’s school that they are having thoughts about suicide. This can seem like one of those things that happens to other people, not to your child and your family. You may be confused and wonder what could have caused this. You may be scared, angry, worried, or any combination of emotions. So what do you do with this? What happens next? How do you handle this?
Every school will have their own policy, but typically they will ask you to pick up your child from school and have your child complete a suicide risk assessment by a mental health professional. This can happen either in a hospital setting, in an outpatient counseling setting, or even in your home through services like the Georgia Crisis and Access Line. The results of the assessment will provide you with recommendations for next steps ranging from least restrictive (monitoring, following a plan to ensure safety in home, and possibly beginning psychotherapy) to most restrictive (short-term crisis hospitalization to ensure safety).
As a parent, you may wonder how you can help your child in a situation that can leave both of you feeling very helpless.
Need help? Know someone who does?
Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
Call or text 988
Chat at 988lifeline.org
Connect with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.
Visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for more information at 988lifeline.org.