Sense & Sensitivity

Keep Up the Conversation About Suicide

DEAR HARRIETTE: Thanks for addressing teen suicide. If a teen says he or she is suicidal, has a plan and has the means to complete that plan, then he or she should be hospitalized. These criteria are objective. Sometimes you have to ask questions to obtain this information, and some readers may be nervous about doing that. If that's the case, please remember that talking about suicide does not make people suicidal. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org), is a great resource. -- Want to Help

DEAR WANT TO HELP: I appreciate your follow-up regarding teen suicide.

This discussion reminds me of my teenage years. My best friend died by suicide on her 16th birthday. When I remember the days and months leading up to her death, I recall being so close in our freshman year. We spent tons of time together, along with a small group of other girls. But there was a change in our sophomore year -- she got a boyfriend and started spending less time with her friends. We tried to stay on her radar, but she became secretive and standoffish.

I mention this because if you notice that your teenager has changed friends suddenly or has shut down from the people who are normally part of his or her life, that’s another indicator that something is off. My friend seemingly had everything; her story is a reminder that how things look on the surface may be different from what’s going on inside.

For parents and friends -- if ever you’re in doubt, get help. Your child may be angry for a moment, but you may end up saving his or her life. If a teen is articulating the desire to end his or her life, be proactive and take that child to the hospital.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, I urge you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line, which you can reach by texting the number 741741.

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