Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Know the Signs :: Suicide Prevention Month
Right now, our day to day activities look drastically different than they ever have before. From school, to play dates, to weekend activities, this new normal is still challenging for parents and kids, along with the stress and anxiety that come with it.
That’s why it’s so important that we learn to recognize early signs of depression in our children. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the tips below will help you identify if your child is battling depression or even thoughts of suicide.
It’s important to pay attention to your child’s favorite hobbies. Are they still doing what they love like virtual dance class, playing in the backyard, chatting with their friends, or have they lost motivation and interest in socialization? How’s their energy? They may simply prefer to sleep or spend extra time in bed. If they are not engaging in these previously loved activities, are they having fun or enjoying them the way they used to?
Know these signs: Depressed children tend to be more sad, irritable, angry, or aggressive. What you may notice is an increase in temper tantrums or crying. Also, your child may tend to have low self-esteem, low energy levels, and feelings of hopelessness. Pay attention to these signs and encourage your child to trust you with expressing these feelings. It is important for children or teens to have at least one adult in their lives with whom they have a close relationship.
Now, let’s take a more in-depth look into suicide and the alarming statistics. Did you know suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the third leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24? In Louisiana, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death. Every 12 hours, one person dies by suicide in this state.
We believe it is so important for parents to realize that suicide has many layers that can be hard to uncover, but there are red flags you can pay attention to that a child may exhibit. Is your child or adolescent obsessed or fascinated with death, dying, or suicide, or are they curious about violence and weapons? Have they given away belongings they usually hold dear to them or have they written or hinted about suicide? These are a few key actions that you should pay attention to, as it may be a sign that your child is suicidal.
So, what exactly puts your child at greater risk of suicide attempt/completion? Some factors associated with suicide include the presence of previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, previous or ongoing abuse, academic difficulties, family/relationship difficulties, recent loss, impulsivity, and untreated mental health problems. Also, there are factors that put a child at an increased risk including changes in gender roles and expectations, conformity and assimilation, feelings of isolation and victimization, and rational response to shame.
At Children’s Hospital New Orleans, our experts are here to help. We are dedicated to the mental healthcare needs of children and adolescents in crisis and offer both inpatient and outpatient services as well as consult services that help assess and treat patients and families coping with medical hospitalization. We encourage you to contact us if you have any concern about your child’s mental well-being.
If your child expresses suicidal thoughts, always consider this to be an emergency. Know about resources your child can use, such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK ) or bring your child to the nearest emergency department.
Hillary Becker, PsyD
Dr. Hillary Becker is a clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. She graduated with a Doctor of Psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and completed her internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Nova Southeastern University Psychology Services Center. She completed both her internship and fellowship at Nova Southeastern’s School-Related Psychological Assessments and Clinical Interventions (SPACI) clinic and the Office of Suicide and Violence Prevention. Dr. Becker chose to practice because she has a passion for helping children and families become the best version of themselves. Her little something extra is that she always tries to get a laugh or smile out of the people she meets!