It’s a truth no parent wants to contemplate: Many of our children think about taking their own lives.
But it’s time for parents to ask their kids about suicidal thoughts and depression — and most importantly, to listen.
In Lorain County, 8.6 percent of sixth-graders reported attempting suicide last year, according to numbers provided by a study by Pride Surveys of Georgia.
The research found 13 percent of sixth-graders, 14.4 percent of eight-graders, and 18.3 percent of 10th-graders said they’d seriously considered attempting suicide in the prior year.
Another 23 percent of sixth-graders said they experienced sadness and hopelessness, up to 35.6 percent by 10th grade.
The numbers also show that almost none of those children are discussing their feelings with a parent.
Many parents feel at a loss for how to approach kids about the topic, according to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.
The group says the first step is to learn about the factors that can put your teen at risk. Then start looking for warning signs: expressions of hopelessness about the future, displaying overwhelming emotional pain, changes in behavior, anger and hostility, making threats about self-harm, and experiencing extreme stress.
“Talking — directly, non-judgmentally, and with compassion — with a child about suicide can make a real difference to their safety and well-being,” wrote Lorain County Board of Mental Health communications director Clare Rosser in a recent online post.
“It’s OK to acknowledge that this is a tough subject: ‘You know, I never thought this was something I’d be talking with you about, but I think it’s really important.’”
A 24/7 mental health crisis line is available at 800-888-6161 for people of all ages. It is confidential and staffed by trained professionals.
Ohio has also launched its new Text4Hope crisis line, which allows people to text “4hope” to 741741. You’ll get a response within five minutes from a counselor.
The Lorain County Board of Mental Health also offers sessions such as a free Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training — ASSIST.
The next session is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 2 and 3 at the Gathering Hope House, 1173 North Ridge Rd. East, Suite 102, Lorain.
For more information about programs, call 440-240-7025 or visit www.lcbmh.org.