SSM Health: Suicide awareness, the signs, and how you can respond

MADISON, Wis. —  This topic is heavy, or even scary, BUT September is suicide awareness month, and it’s a good time to focus on being aware of how your child or teen is feeling. SSM Health Physician Roopa Shah shares things to look for if you’re concerned someone may be considering harming themselves.

“So there are certain things your kids will start to exhibit,” says Shah, “If you notice your child being down, depressed, changes in their mood, if they’re becoming more irritable, withdrawn, if they’re not interacting as much with their social circle as much as they were, that includes friends and family, just watching for those changes. Also if they’re not sleeping as well, if they’re waking up frequently throughout the night, having nightmares, bad dreams, or if you notice that their appetite has changed that they’re eating less or maybe more than they were previously, that could indicate some changes as well. Some kids may become really volatile, very angry a well, and some may become more withdrawn. So just any changes in personality, or regular patterns of behavior might be warning signs.”

Dr. Shah says that if you’re seeing these signs in your child, start by having an intentional conversation with a focus on you listening and hearing them. She also says there are resources such as a school psychiatrist or family doctor, but also other trusted adults such as youth leaders or a church pastor.

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