Teen suicide attempt
A desperate mother asks for help from Parent24’s teen expert.
(Getty Images)
Dear Parent24
What does a parent do when her child tries to commit suicide?
- Dorcas

Parent24 teen expert Megan de Beyer has this to say:

No matter what your thoughts about your child’s suicide attempt put them aside. It is essential that your child’s feelings and thoughts be heard without judgement, criticism or overreaction from her parents. She first and foremost needs to be listened to and to know that you care and love her and that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to support her.

It is tragic when a child feels that the only option is to kill herself yet the statistics show us that it is happening with more regularity. It needs to be taken seriously even if her attempt seemed to be a cry for attention and this means that you need help.

Make an appointment with the school counsellor; with Famsa or with a private psychologist. Your child needs to understand her sadness, express it and find a productive way to heal it. Teenagers are experiencing complicated hormonal changes as well as more and more pressure from school and social circles which can cause a teen to be over emotional or irrational.

Some teens are less ‘hardy’ than others as they have a sensitive temperament. Your child needs to understand how to deal with the stressors in her life.
I suggest you take an honest look at your child’s life and your own family life. What changes have there been? What is the nature of your relationships like? How much do you ‘sweep under the carpet’; how do you guys handle conflict? Do you allow each other to talk about problems openly in a kind environment?

It is no use pointing fingers but it is worthwhile to take this opportunity to be honest about the stressors that affect your child’s life.
And now talk to your daughter openly, honestly without judgement and blame, without anger or overreaction. She needs to feel connected but she also needs to be heard and understood by someone who cares. Sometimes trauma brings the most good as it wakes us up to reality and to what really matters.

For help

Famsa: Counselling for families: 021 447 0170 or famsa@famsawc.org.za if you are in the Western Cape.

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