DEAR HARRIETTE: A co-worker informed me that his 13-year-old daughter is having suicidal thoughts. He asked her if she was facing bullying at school, but she denies it. He does not know where these thoughts are coming from. He is thinking about therapy, but that is it. It is a difficult situation to hear. How can I take action to support his family? -- Suicidal Thoughts
DEAR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS: Sadly, teen suicide rates have risen alarmingly in recent years. One study suggests that teens die by suicide in greater numbers than by car accidents. Apparently, social media is part of the problem. The false sense of connection can actually prove to be quite lonely for teens and does not help them navigate these difficult years.
You can help your friend by being an active listener and suggesting reading materials that may help him to make smart choices to support his daughter. If you ever hear something that sounds particularly alarming, suggest that your friend take his daughter to the hospital at once. Potential suicide is an emergency. Suggest that your friend read up about suicide at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Another source of information is this helpful article from USA Today: bit.ly/2XjEqbS.
For anyone, teenager or otherwise, who is feeling vulnerable and having suicidal thoughts, there is a hotline you can call where a real person will talk to you and listen to you so that you don’t have to feel alone. That number is 1-800-273-8255.