TALKING TO YOUNG ADULTS
It’s easy to believe that suicide is not relevant to you, your family or other important people in your life. The unfortunate reality is that suicidal thoughts or the act itself can happen to people of any age—in particular among youth and young adults.
Suicide is something you can and should talk about with others. Contrary to belief, talking about suicide will not plant the idea in their head. It will actually open up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret.
If you believe someone you know is contemplating suicide or is exhibiting any of the warning signs of suicide, don’t wait to speak with them – taking action is always the best choice.
How to start the conversation
- Ask if you can talk with them alone in private.
- Ask questions to get them to open up.
- “I have been feeling concerned about you lately. How are you feeling?”
- “You haven’t been acting like yourself lately. Is everything okay?”
- “You seem really down. How are you doing?”
- Listen to their story and allow them to talk freely.
- Ask if they have thought about ending their life.
- “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- “Are you thinking about dying?”
- “Do you want to kill yourself?”
- “Have you thought about how or when you’d do it?”
- Express concern and care.
- “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”
- Seek available resources and let them know you will assist them in getting help.
- “I want to help you. Here are some resources we can try together.”
- “I know reaching out for help seems scary, but I will be here with you every step of the way.”
- If you are a parent or relative, discuss your family medical history, including incidences of mental health issues, with a young person upon entering adulthood.
- “It’s important to understand our family history when it comes to mental health and how it might impact you.”
- You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
- You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
- I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
- When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute – whatever you can manage.
Do NOT say:
- You have so much to live for…
- You’re not going to attempt suicide, are you?
- Your suicide will hurt me and your family.
- Look on the bright side…
- Are you sure you’re really feeling that way?
If a young adult is reluctant to talk to you, don’t give up. Look for different ways to connect. And when talking to a young person, remember: try your best to be yourself; listen to what he or she is telling you; be sympathetic and offer hope.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis or medical emergency, call toll-free at 800.273.8255. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Connect with Community Behavioral Health Services
To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional in the Indianapolis area, call 317.621.5700.
After talking with a young adult
After you’ve explained and normalized the mental health challenges, assure a young adult that it is treatable. Along with encouraging him or her to get treatment, actively seek out resources and mental health professionals for them. Explore options with the young adult; there are many different types of treatments and treatment combinations available. Identifying the treatment approaches that best fit may take time, but do not be discouraged! Be patient and know that once the right mental health professionals are identified, a world of difference will be made.
- Do not forget to listen to any input the young adult may have.
- Be persistent in encouraging him or her to seek treatment and continue this support while they are receiving help.
- Ensure he or she is getting the treatment they need.
- Maintain open communication with the young adult as they seek treatment, but this must be balanced with respecting their privacy. Ask him or her about their mental illness, how they are doing, and what skills they are learning in therapy. At the same time, respect that he or she may not want to discuss everything they are talking about with their therapist or doctor.
- Stay involved with the mental health providers who are treating your child, and trust that they will work to ensure their safety.
- Never stop helping him or her seek out necessary treatment, as your encouragement and your relationship is imperative for their recovery process.