Youth Suicide Prevention

What You Can Do

There is no single cause of suicide. No one cause or event makes a person consider suicide. Suicide is a result of multiple stressors that make an individual feel out of control, hopeless or unable to change what is happening.

1. Talk with your family, friends about suicide. Contrary to myth, talking about suicide does not give someone the idea.
2. Spread the word. Help is available. No one needs to feel they are alone.
3. Know the warning signs. Suicide can be prevented.


Every parent would like to believe that suicide is not relevant to them or their family or friends. Unfortunately, it’s all too relevant for all of us. It’s the second leading cause of death for youth age 10-24. Even more disturbing are national surveys that tell us that 17% of high school students admit to thinking about suicide and almost 8% acknowledge actually making an attempt. The unfortunate truth is that suicide can happen to any kid in any family at any time.

Contrary to myth, talking about suicide cannot plant the idea in someone’s head. It actually can open up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret. And secrets that are exposed to the rational light of day often become less powerful and scary. You also give your child permission to bring up the subject again in the future.

  • Timing is everything! Pick a time when you have the best chance of getting your child’s attention. Sometimes a car ride, for example, assures you of a captive, attentive audience. Or a suicide that has received media attention can provide the perfect opportunity to bring up the topic.
  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time and rehearse a script if necessary. It always helps to have a reference point: (“I was reading in the paper that youth suicide has been increasing…” or “I saw that your school is having a program for teachers on suicide prevention.”)
  • If this is a hard subject for you to talk about, admit it! (“You know, I never thought this was something I’d be talking with you about, but I think it’s really important.”) By acknowledging your discomfort, you give your child permission to acknowledge his/her discomfort too.
  • Ask for your child’s response. Be direct! (“What do you think about suicide?”; “Is it something that any of your friends talk about?”; “Have you ever thought about it? What about your friends?”)
  • Listen to what your child has to say. You’ve asked the questions, so simply consider your child’s answers. If you hear something that worries you, be honest about that too. (“What you’re telling me has really gotten my attention and I need to think about it some more. Let’s talk about this again, okay?”)
  • Keep calm. Don’t overreact or underreact. Overreaction will close off any future communication on the subject. Underreacting, especially in relation to suicide, is often just a way to make ourselves feel better. Any thoughts or talk of suicide (“I felt that way a while ago but don’t any more.”) should always be revisited. Remember that suicide is an attempt to solve a problem that seems impossible to solve in any other way. Ask about the problem that created the suicidal thoughts. This can make it easier to bring up again in the future. (“I wanted to ask you again about the situation you were telling me about…”)

Download PDF handout

Source:, accessed Jan. 16, 2018


For Parents & Community

I’m Worried About My Child. Where Do I Start? There is no need to be embarrassed about asking questions or reaching out for help. Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide shares that it is okay to be concerned about your child, and it is your job as a parent to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get them the support they need. As a parent, you have instincts about your child, and if your instinct tells you something is wrong and this is not “just a phase” then you should listen to yourself. Read article »

FAQs About Your Child’s Referral to Mental Health Services If you are like most parents, you probably have very little experience accessing or using mental health services. But if you have been encouraged to have your child evaluated for mental health treatment, or you personally think your child might benefit from counseling, even beginning the process may be bewildering and overwhelming. Here’s a list prepared by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide of answers to questions frequently asked by parents seeking mental health treatment for their children. Read list »

When a Child’s Friend Dies by Suicide (PDF, 2 pages) When your child’s life is touched by the suicide of a peer or a friend, you may find yourself experiencing a lot of different things about the same time. The questions of how and why did this happen are often fodder for neighborhood gossip and speculation. This is when it’s so important to remember that suicide is a complex act that is always related to a variety of causes. For more about what you can do from the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, go to PDF »

For Youth, Young People & Community

Warning Signs (PDF, 1 page) Are you concerned that someone you know may be at risk for suicide? Your first step in helping may be as simple as learning the FACTS or warning signs. Prepared by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, recognizable signs may mean that a youth is at risk for suicide, particularly if that person attempted suicide in the past. Go to PDF »

When a Friend is Talking About Suicide Time is the crucial thing when dealing with a friend who is having suicidal thoughts. It is important that once you hear your friend talking about these feelings, to recognize them for what they are: a serious threat to your friend’s life. Don’t ignore them and assume the person is just being dramatic. If your friend is talking about killing himself or herself, you just can’t handle it on your own – you HAVE TO tell a trusted adult! Learn what to do from the Society of the Prevention of Teen Suicide. Read article »

When a Friend Dies: Guideline for Students (PDF, 2 pages ) Having a friend die suddenly is pretty bad under any circumstances, but when the reason appears to be suicide, it can feel even worse. There is something about having a friend choose to die, especially if the circumstances were violent, that can be really hard to understand. Learn what to do from the Society of the Prevention of Teen Suicide. Go to PDF »

You are not alone: crisis text line

Crisis Text Line serves young people in any type of crisis, providing them access to free, 24/7, emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text messaging.

Spread the word. Crisis Text Line images and video are available for print and web use. Save and share these images on social media such as Instagram and Facebook to help let others know help is available. More from Crisis Text Line »


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You are not alone: peer videos

View Youth MOVE PSAs featuring GlenOak High School teens reminding peers to take care of their mental health.


PSA #1PSA #2 (Extended Version)PSA #3 (FULL VERSION)


Keep hope alive. Each year in the United States, people of all ages complete suicide. Approximately 80% have given warning signs to their families, friends and neighbors.

  • Talking or writing about suicide
  • Giving away belongings
  • Withdrawing from loved ones and activities
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless
  • Seeking ways to suicide, such as guns or pills
  • Major eating or sleeping changes
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Losing interest in things previously enjoyed


Mental Health First Aid Training for Youth

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health, addiction or crisis. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

learn more and register for the next training

How are you feeling today?

Feeling sad, down or empty? Constantly worried or anxious? Experiencing mood swings from very high to very low? Mental health is a key part of your overall health. Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional. This online quiz is completely anonymous and confidential, and immediately following the brief questionnaire you will see your results, recommendations and key resources.


Additional resources

getting involved: What can I do locally?

Join the Stark County Suicide Prevention Coalition as we work together to save lives. Invite a Coalition member to your business, church, school or community organization to help plan an activity and/or provide suicide awareness and prevention training. To learn more about the Stark County Suicide Prevention Coalition, contact Allison Esber at 330-430-3972 or