The guidelines below, provided in multiple languages, were developed to help parents intervene with suicidal or self-injurous youth.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please get immediate help by calling 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “HOME” to 741741, the Crisis Text Line.

Intervention Guidelines

Parent Information

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States
  • For every death by suicide, 200 youth attempt suicide
  • Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs
  • There has been a steady rise in suicide rates for 10-24 year olds in California since 2007

Risk Factors

  • Depression or other mental health issues
  • Hopelessness
  • Alcohol and/or substance use
  • Impulsivity
  • Non-suicidal self-injury, especially over a period of time (such as cutting)
  • Previous suicidal behaviors or thinking
  • Prior suicide of a family member, friend/peer, or public role model
  • History of trauma or interpersonal conflict, family stress
  • History of being a victim of bullying or engagement in bullying
  • Presence of a firearm in the home/accessibility to means

Warning Signs

  • Suicidal notes, texts, drawings, posts in social media
    • Threats can be direct (I want to die, I’m going to kill myself) or Indirect (everyone would be better off if I were dead, I’m a burden to everyone, There is no reason to live)
  • Personality changes
  • Neglect of personal appearance, hygiene
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Increased risk taking
  • Significant drug or alcohol use
  • Evidence of seeking methods to die, such as obtaining a gun, researching methods online
  • Giving away prized possessions/making final arrangements
  • Isolation, withdrawal from preferred activities
  • Talk about feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Sudden, unexplained happiness

Suicide is Preventable, What to Do

  • Talk to your child directly. Asking “Are you thinking about suicide?” will NOT put the idea into their head, but it WILL let your child know you care, and can handle what they tell you.
  • Be calm and non-judgmental. If you need to practice the conversation in advance in order to remain calm, do so. This will send the message that you are strong enough to handle what they have to tell you. If you do not remain non-judgmental, your child may not feel comfortable in telling you very necessary information you may need to save his or her life. If you phrase your question like “You are not thinking of suicide are you?” that sends a message that you are looking for a specific answer, not necessarily the truth.
  • It is ok not to know all the answers. Reassure your child that there is help available, and together you will find help. Asking for help will protect your child, and together you can identify caring adults that your child can talk to when he or she needs guidance and support.
  • Do not minimize the problem, and listen to them, focusing concern on their well being.
  • Provide constant supervision, do not leave them alone
  • Get help! Do not keep suicidal thoughts a secret! Either contact your child’s school or mental health resources in the community as soon as possible.
  • Remove access to firearms or other lethal means from your home immediately. Even if you think these means are securely stored, your child may know how to access them.
  • Foster connectedness with peers and adults. Recent studies show that students who have students who had more connections with peers and close connection to adults had lower rates of suicide.
  • Know the signs, and share the knowledge. This information may not just help your child, but your child’s friends. Sharing the information will also protect your child in other settings, such as friend’s homes if your child shows signs of suicide there!

Helpful Smartphone Apps

A Friend Asks App
Virtual Hopebox App
MY3 App