Needing help is not a failing...it is simply being human.
It is OK to ask for Help...Someone will be there!
Coping Strategies for Teens
Spend time with family and friends.
Get involved with after-school activities.
Volunteer - you have a lot to offer.
Think and plan your future. Set realistic goals.
Try to be open with your feelings.
Write your feelings and thoughts in your journal or diary.
Read books & subjects that uplift you.
Laugh ~ keep your sense of humor!
Start a new project – plant garden, flowers, fix things...
Learn a new hobby you have always wanted to try
Consider the importance of spirituality in your life.
Accept other's thanks, compliments toward you, and praise for you.
Eat right! - - - Chocolate is good!
Join a support group
Seek out a counselor
Do not tolerate physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from anyone.
Get help immediately! Seek help if you feel overwhelmed or troubled.
I'm worried about... myself, friend, family.
Finding help for yourself or others
Sometimes it's really hard to ask for help, especially if you're already feeling badly. We created this page to try to make it a little easier for you to approach an adult for help.
- Choose a safe person to approach - someone who likes and understands you and who is trustworthy. This might be a parent, teacher, coach, minister, favorite aunt, guidance counselor, school nurse, etc.
- Take time to plan what you want to say to them - if you are prepared then you will be able to clearly tell them what you need and there will not be misinterpretations of what you are saying.
- Think about what you would like to get out of the conversation - if you have ideas of what you think could help your situation, it will be important to share them. They want to help you feel better and giving them ideas on how to do that may make the process easier.
- Make an appointment - ask for a time where there won't be interruptions or distractions. Especially if you're going to talk to your parent, ask for time in the evening when dinner is over, the little kids are in bed, and things are more calm.
- Bring a friend for support - sometimes having someone with you makes the idea of getting help easier. Do what is best for you.
- Download and print this Help Form (RTF) - this form was created so that you could fill it out and give it to the person you've decided to talk to. Allow him/her time to look it over before you start talking.
- Be honest - it can be hard to talk about difficult feelings and situations, but being honest and seeking help is one of the first steps to creating solutions.
- Listen - to what your parent(s) or other trustworthy adult has to say in response to your concerns. Remember that they care about you and want you to feel better.
- Congratulate yourself on doing something positive for yourself - it takes a lot of courage to ask for help.
How to Answer Questions Teens Ask About Suicide
What if my friend refuses to talk with someone and says if I tell anyone he's thinking of suicide, he'll kill himself for sure?
This is not an unusual response. It is a form of testing and can be interpreted as a question. The suicidal person will be unsure of anyone who wants to help. Some will be more unsure than others. This response is from a person who is not quick to trust because of previous hurts and betrayals by others of his confidence. Still, what this person is checking out about the friend who wants to help is how much they are willing to fight to save their life. If the friend agrees not to tell anyone, they will lose his respect.
What needs to be said to the potentially suicidal person in this situation? A good response to the threat is:
"Look, you let me know you were feeling suicidal. If you didn't want help, you would never have said anything to me, so I'm not going to let it go. Come on. Both of us will go see someone."
This kind of response lets the person know how serious we are and how much we care. It brings them back in touch with that part that wants to live. In most cases they will agree to see someone after hearing this. If they still insist on not talking and take off, it is critical that someone who can get to that youngster be told immediately.
Kids need to know exactly who they can tell and in what situations. When in school, there are the teachers, counselors, etc. When out of school, there are their own parents, police, and the phone operator for the Suicide Prevention Center, etc. Make sure they know where to go for help immediately. Schools can work out an arrangement with a 24-hour prevention center so that when kids call and identify the school they attend, the center can, if necessary, notify an identified person in the school.
What do I do if I want to break up with a boyfriend but he says he'll kill himself if I do?
When this occurs, the suicidal person is often very angry but unable to direct the anger appropriately. He/she is also devastated by the "rejection." In most cases, the breakup brings to the surface feelings around a much earlier rejection by a parent that the suicidal person is unable to separate out emotionally from the current situation, or is not consciously aware that the tremendous hurt he/she feels now goes back to a time long before the girl/boyfriend.
The friend who is breaking up with this person who is doing the threatening will also experience a lot of anger for such a drastic retaliation as well as fear that it may actually happen. The tendency is to act on the anger and say something like, "Go ahead," or "That's your problem, not mine." Sometimes the person reacts to the fear and either becomes immobilized or gives in to promising not to tell.
About the only response in this situation is something like:
" I know you're really upset; so am I, but I can't keep going out with you. You make me really mad when you dump suicide on me, but you are also making it clear that you really are hurt, too. Both you and I need to go talk to someone. I don't want you to hurt yourself, but I can't lie to you and say I want to keep going out with you, either. If you don't go with me to talk this out with someone, I'll have to tell someone, because I'm still your friend and I don't want you to hurt yourself."
If they are still talking suicide after this, it is imperative that someone is told. It's helpful to let students know that if they do this much, they have done as much as they can possibly do. Stress the importance of telling someone, as this will help relieve them of the horrendous burden of guilt should the person kill him/herself. A promise to talk to someone is not enough in this situation. They must talk with someone immediately. Once contact is made with a professional, they can take over, and the responsibility of the friend has ended. They were honest and did all they could possibly do.
What do I do when no one believes me or does anything if I tell them about a friend I think is thinking about suicide?
The only thing to do when an adult, whether a parent or counselor, refuses to believe someone is contemplating suicide is to immediately go to someone else who will listen and do something.
What if the counselor my friend is seeing isn't helping?
Sometimes counselors and therapists are thought to be miracle workers, and clients are said to be resistant or at fault if they are not making progress. There is no therapist/counselor who can work well with everyone. Personality clashes happen; backgrounds get in the way, and some problems are simply outside of the therapist's skill and knowledge.
Yes, it is true that sometimes clients unknowingly sabotage counseling, but it is also true that even the best therapist is unable to help some people who would do better with another counselor.
If counseling doesn't seem to be helping, first let the counselor know. A good counselor will agree and suggest taking another direction for a period of time and if that doesn't help, recommend another counselor. A good counselor will also recognize the need for an immediate referral if it is felt that continuing a while longer will not be helpful. The counselor who does not do this, but quickly says the problem is with the client, is likely not to be the therapist to continue to see.
Remember, the suicidal person often does not want to die, they just want the hurt to end.
I would feel dumb asking a friend if they are suicidal. What if they weren't? Won't they think I'm crazy?
Yes they may call you crazy, but not really think you're crazy. By asking, you are showing how much you care, how much you pay attention to them, and how much courage you have to risk being wrong rather that assume they can handle things.
What if someone wants to die because things are bad and aren't likely to change – shouldn't they have the right to die?
Ultimately, the person does make the final choice as to whether they will live or end their life. It is critical to remember, however, that the person who is certain that suicide is the only way usually does not tell anyone or leave clues. Those who leave clues or talk to you about ending their life are crying out for help. If the response to their cry is "That's your choice," it may be interpreted as a rejection, and as a decision on your part not to get involved because you think they are not worth saving. Remember, the suicidal person often does not want to die; they just want the hurt to end and know of no other way or have not had the experience of someone being there for them when they need it most.
How do I get my friend to talk when he/she says it doesn't help to talk?
Sometimes people find it difficult to talk because they are confused and don't know what they are thinking. Sometimes they are scared that they will say something to upset the listener. There may also be a fear that as they talk, they may not like what they hear themselves say.
Silence is a difficult situation to deal with because the silent person is in control. It leaves the listener feeling frustrated, angry, and anxious about what to say or do. It helps in this situation to let the person know their silence probably has protected them before from people who were insensitive, mean, critical, or made them feel what they had said was crazy, stupid, or not serious enough to get so uptight over. If you can let the person know you understand this and that you're not one of these people and ask them who hurt them so badly that they feel like suicide, they are likely to open up. If this doesn't help, and they continue their silence, get help.
Why should I call a suicide prevention center? What can they do over the phone?
The counselors at these centers are trained to talk with people in crisis. They generally know what to say, how to say it, and when. They can also call others to come to the aid of a person in need, or if you are calling about a friend, the counselor can call the friend directly.
It needs to be made clear, however, that in some centers the philosophy is that a person has a right to choose whether they live or die. This attitude is not one that I personally support because psychologically, the person in need is desperately hoping someone will stop them from ending their life. To say to the person that it is their choice is to ignore their cry for help and not understand the psychological dynamics. Ultimately, it can become the reason for their attempt and death. We must try.
What about someone who draws pictures of a body hanging?
Remember that any reference to dying, verbal or written, can be a clue that the person is suicidal. Drawing pictures of death does not always indicate suicide, but this can't be determined until the person is asked about suicide. Drawings should be taken seriously.
I know someone who jokes about it. What do I do?
Suicide is no joke. Even people who joke about it are serious. The joking is sometimes unknowingly used because the person knows of no other way to communicate. These people often joke about everything that is serious to them.
Any reference to dying, verbal or written, can be a clue that a person is suicidal.
This girl I know never does anything she threatens to do when she's mad. How do I know if she'll do something dumb one of these times? I get tired of her.
This kind of person makes us angry after awhile. We tend not to listen to them, or even want to spend time with them. This is a normal reaction. The anger comes from our own fear that the one time we don't take the person seriously, they'll do something drastic. That's a lot of pressure and makes us feel like we can't win.
The fact is that each threat must be taken seriously because the risk is high if it is ignored. It helps to sometimes say to this person,
" You upset me when you keep threatening to kill yourself. I know you're mad, but why would you want to give the person you're mad at the satisfaction of saying you're crazy because of your suicide threats? It really doesn't help, and killing yourself is not likely to change much of anything. Let's go talk to someone who can help straighten things out."
This may or may not help. The threat still needs to be taken seriously. If you don't feel comfortable dealing with the person, then tell someone else who can get to them.Parents Trauma Resource Centerwww.tlcinstitute.org • 877-306-5256© TLC Institute 2004
How to Support Grieving Youth
Grieving is a natural reaction to a death or other significant loss. Grief over the loss of a loved one is a process that is incorporated into the lives of survivors, forever changing their lives. The grief reaction to suicide typically includes expression of shock, disbelief, denial, anger, guilt and shame.
The suicide of a friend or classmate can cause a special form of grief for children and teens. Children and teens will need your help – provide them with information, understanding and comfort. Follow normal household routines as much as is possible. This can provide a sense of comfort and safety to a grieving child.
Children express their reactions to a crisis in different ways. Children and teens may show anger, get upset easily, want to talk, or withdraw to make sense of it themselves. Younger children may be more open about their feelings than older children and teens.
The following lists provide ideas for you as you support your child or teen.
- Learn about the grief process
- Reassure him/her that he/she is not responsible
- Be absolutely genuine and truthful
- Demonstrate love and respect by being attentive
- Encourage talking about feelings and about the deceased friend
- Listen, no matter what!
- Offer to attend the visitation or funeral with a youth
- Allow crying--perhaps lots of crying
- Expect laughter--a sign of happy memories
- Follow the lead of the "survivor" with patience and kindness
- Offer opportunities for remembering; i.e., special events, birthdays
- Expect that your presence may be important, while talking may be limited ("Silence is Golden")
- Share some of your experience with loss, but keep the focus on the person you are supporting
- Help to identify others to talk to (i.e., minister, priest, rabbi or counselor)
- Encourage expression of feelings by writing poems, songs, letters or making a scrapbook.
- Believe in healing and growth
- Giving a lot of advice
- Arguing over trivial matters
- Making moralistic statements about the person who died
- Minimizing the loss
- Discouraging or time-limiting the grieving process
- Assigning new responsibilities right away
Always, when talking to children about suicide, be clear that suicide is never a solution to any problem.
Pay attention to changes in your child's behavior being especially attentive to suicide warning signs. Anniversary dates may be times where increased vigilance is needed. If you have any cause for concern, don't hesitate to seek support from a school counselor, pastor, therapist, or other helping professional.
Adapted with permission from Maine.gov
Everyone grieves differently. Personal and family experiences with death, religious beliefs, community exposure and cultural traditions all play a role. Below are some of the more or less predictable adolescent reactions to a suicide and suggested responses.
• Shock and Denial. At first there may be remarkably little response. The reality of the death has yet to be absorbed. "You are kidding, right?" "This is just a joke-it can't be true."
Suggested Response: Acknowledge the shock, anticipate the reaction to come, show a willingness to talk when the youth are ready.
• Anger and Protection. Generally speaking, "black and white" thinking sets in. Youth want someone to blame for this and may openly express/ direct anger at the deceased's parents/teachers/boy/girlfriend. "Why did you let this happen?" "It is all your fault that this happened!"
Suggested Response: Listen and then listen some more. Gently explain that it is natural to want to find a reason for things we don't understand. Suggest that suicide is a very complicated human behavior and that there are always multiple reasons. Explain that blaming another individual may be very harmful to them.
• Guilt. Youth close to the deceased may blame themselves. "If only I had called him back last night;" "I should have known...I should not have teased him...."
Suggested Response: Remind the youth that only the person who kills him/herself is responsible for having made that decision. Be clear that you don't believe it is his/her fault.
• Anger at the Deceased. This is surprisingly common, among close friends as well as those who were not close to the deceased. "How could she do something so stupid?"
Suggested Response: Allowing and acknowledging some expression of anger is helpful. Explain that this is a normal stage of grieving. Acknowledgment of anger often lessens its intensity.
• Anxiety. Youth sometimes start to worry about themselves and/or other friends. "If she could get upset enough to kill herself, maybe the same thing will happen to me (or one of my friends)."
Suggested Response: Help the youth see the differences between themselves and the dead person. Remind them that help is always available. Discuss other options and resources. Practice problem solving.
• Loneliness. Those closest to the deceased may find it almost impossible to return to a normal routine, and may even resent those who appear to be having fun. They may feel empty, lost, totally disconnected. They may become obsessed with keeping the memory of their friend alive.
Suggested Response: Encourage them to help each other move forward in positive ways. Notice anyone who seems to be isolating from others and reach out to them, offering resources to help with the grieving process.
• Hope and Relief. Once the reality of the death has been accepted, and the acute pain of the loss subsides, youth find that life resumes a large degree of normalcy and they come to understand that over time, they feel much better. They can remember their friend without the extreme pain.
Suggested Response: Simply remain open to listening to their feelings, especially on anniversaries (two weeks, months, years etc.), and transition times (graduations etc.). Recognize the importance of both mourning and remembering.
Adapted with permission from Maine.gov
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