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Concerned parent should talk about suicide with teenage daughter

By Dr. Timothy Lineberry

Tribune Media Services

Dear MAYO Clinic: My daughter has struggled with depression as a teen, and sometimes I worry she may consider suicide. I don’t want to make things worse by bringing it up, though. Should I talk to her about my concerns?

Answer: You should definitely talk to your daughter about your concerns. Many parents share your fear that bringing up the topic of suicide may put it into a child’s mind when they were not considering it before. But it does not hurt to ask. It helps.

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 24. It is highly associated with psychiatric illness, such as depression, and often follows stressful life events. Problems with school or in personal relationships may seem insurmountable in the moment. A history of psychological trauma and current problems with alcohol or drugs may underlie, or facilitate, someone’s thoughts of suicide and suicidal actions.

Specific suicide warning signs to watch for include talking about wanting to die or to commit suicide, or looking for a way to commit suicide. Also, pay attention to what your teen says: Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live; talking about feeling trapped; being in unbearable pain or feeling isolated; and talking about being a burden to others are all signs a teen may be thinking about suicide.

Dr. Timothy Lineberry specializes in psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.