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“Every parent thinks that their child could never be impacted, but no one is immune from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Connecting and engaging in an empathetic, loving way and knowing the warning signs can make all the difference.”

- Lisa Dirksen, Board of Directors President with The Redshirt Foundation


Pat attention to your child's words and behaviors. If your child is thinking about or planning suicide, they are likely showing warning signs. Never downplay threats of self-harm; take any mention of suicide seriously.

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If your child is struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, do not simply wait for the child to come to you. Talk with them immediately with compassion, reassurance, and support moving forward.

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Psychiatrists or psychologists can guide you, diagnose underlying mental health concerns, and help create a mental wellness plan for your child. Support your child at home by following the recommended wellness plan.

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Image by Külli Kittus

Watch for Warning Signs

No child is the same and so no child will show the exact same warning signs. Understanding your child's behavior and changes to their behavior is critical to mental health support and suicide prevention. The follow are examples to watch for:

  • Withdrawing from social engagements

  • Frequent mood swings

  • Changes in eating or sleeping behaviors

  • Self-destructive behaviors

  • Giving away belongings with no explanation

  • Personality changes

  • Severe anxiety

  • Aggressive agitation

  • Dramatic changes in personality or appearance

  • Use of alcohol and drugs

  • Feeling a burden to friends and family

  • Feeling trapped or alone

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Talking about or writing about suicide

If you see warning signs, do not hesitate to start a conversation with your child and seek professional support. There are many resources available, and while this can be a scary time for a parent, you do not have to do this alone. You have a community ready to support you here at The Redshirt Foundation.

According to the CDC, around 80% of teen suicides show the child displaying warning signs that were either missed or disregarded. Know the signs and understand what puts a child at increased risk.

- Center for Disease Control, Teen Suicide

Start the Conversation

You wouldn't be afraid to ask you child if they were feeling physically unwell; mental wellness should be no different. If your child is displaying warning signs or depression, anxiety, or risk of personal harm, do not wait for your child to come to you. Find a safe and comfortable place and time to talk about their mental wellness. Listen with compassion, reinforce that your child is loved, and support them in finding a path forward.

Talking to your child about suicide can feel like an overwhelming and somewhat dangerous subject. Please know that talking to your child about suicide won't plant the idea in their minds and won't make them more likely to attempt suicide according to peer reviewed, mental health studies

Image by Melissa Askew

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