According to a recent study, half of parents are unaware that their children are having suicidal thoughts. The study surveyed 5,000 adolescents aged 11-17 and asked them questions including whether they had ever thought about killing themselves and whether they ever thought a lot about death or dying. The parents of these same children were asked questions about their child's thoughts on suicide and death/dying. According to the study, 50% of the parents surveyed had no idea that their children had considered suicide and 76% of parents did not know that their children frequently thought about death or dying.
The study also showed that, as children got older, parents were less likely to be in denial about their children's suicidal thoughts. This may mean that younger adolescents are not getting the help they need. There were differences among the genders as well. Parents were more likely to be aware of their daughter's suicidal thoughts and less aware of their son's. In addition, fathers were less likely to be aware of suicidal thoughts when compared to mothers.
Need for Help
The study highlights the urgent need for children to get help with mental health issues from an early age. Primary care physicians and pediatricians should receive training on risk factors for suicide and how to identify mental illness in children. Doctors should routinely screen all children for depression and suicide risk. There should also be resources available in schools to connect children with mental health treatment.
In addition, parents need to pay attention to the signs that even their young children may be showing. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, warning signs of suicidal thoughts include withdrawal from friends and family, sleeping too much or too little, irritable or aggressive behavior, and use of alcohol and drugs. It can be tough for parents to discern whether their children are having suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, parents may be in denial. Suicidal thoughts are scary, and parents may not want to acknowledge the problem. It’s important for parents to overcome this denial and get their children the help they need.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.