What should you do if you suspect your family member or your child is suicidal?
You may feel shocked, angry, helpless and panicked, or even scared that your words would hurt his/her feelings that would affect what will happen next.
Please remember that your response could cause a huge impact to your family member.
- Respond quickly
If your family member made a suicide threat, call him/her or locate his/her position asap and dial 999!
For more information about risk factor and warning signs, please read this
- Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings
Bring up the subject of suicide. Asking directly if someone is thinking about suicide can break through the barriers (stigma or feel that he/she may not be understood). Also you can share your feelings and let him/her express his/her feeling on this.
- Show your care, encourage your family member to talk about his/her feelings
“I notice you are very distressed lately, are you having any problems? Do you want to share with mummy?”
- Be accepting, don’t judge or argue
“Suicide is wrong! Do you know how blessed you are to have all these in your life? And now you want to kill yourself?”
“How dare you to think of killing yourself! Have you thought this will hurt your family? You’re so selfish.”
- Support or help your family member to get help
You may find it difficult to understand what he/she has said, or you may have the fear you can’t actually help him/her with his/her problems. You can just be honest about your limitation and tell him/her that you are willing to be their companion and help them seek the professional help.
“I’m afraid that I may not be able to help, though I’m really worried about you. Let’s approach the school counselor/ social worker together and don’t worry, I won’t leave you. I’m still here to support you.”
- Keep an eye on his/her mood changes
Pay extra attention to his/her emotions and observe if there is any sudden changes in mood. Check out the website 《Little Prince is Depressed》 for more information about mood disorders.
- Create an atmosphere that they can freely express themselves
Respect and listen to their feelings and thoughts. Accept and understand their needs
- Build positive relationship through communication
Daily schedule a time for a quality parent-child communication, where they can feel free to share what they are interested in
- Review life plan with your child
Review life plan with your child once in a while (e.g. 3 months) such as academic expectation and time management
- Explore interests and talents
Explore and cultivate your child’s interests and talents, which may help broaden their horizons and social network
Let your child put his/her strengths into action, and set their own goals
- Understanding mental illness
Learn more about the symptoms of mental illnesses for early prevention and intervention
- Maintain a close communication with school
Actively participle in school activities which can foster the home-school collaboration