My child is having suicidal thoughts

If you’re worried that your child is having thoughts of ending their life, there are things you can do to help with their safety and wellbeing.

If you feel your child may be in danger of harm or at immediate risk, call 999 or visit A&E. If you think your child may hurt themselves, put any harmful items away and be open with your child about why you’ve done this. This includes painkillers and sharp objects.
Sad teenage boy

Get help if your child is at risk 

Encourage your child to talk to someone about how they’re feeling. Sometimes it helps if this is outside the family – your child may feel confused or ashamed about how they feel.

Your child can contact one of the following support services:

  • Papyrus, for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or worried about someone else. Call 0800 068 4141 or text 07860039967. 9am – midnight.
  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger 24/7 anonymous text support services. Text ‘YM’ to 85258.
  • Samaritans 24/7 listening service. Call 116 123.
  • Childline, by phone on online chat. Call 0800 1111 between 9am – 3:30am or talk to a counsellor online 9am – 10:30pm. 
  • Your GP, for local support.

How you can support your child

If you’re worried about your child but you don’t think they’re at immediate risk, you can try to help them work through their feelings. Make sure your child knows you’re there for them, and they can talk to you about anything.

If your child feels OK speaking about their feelings with you, ask a professional to help you create a ‘safety plan’. This is a way to navigate difficult thoughts and feelings. It can help them work out how they can cope with suicidal thoughts, and to spot any triggers. Papyrus is one service that can support with this.

You can also encourage them to think about what helps to relax them. This may be activities they enjoy. It might be creating a self-soothe box. Or use techniques for helping with anxious feelings or stress.

Let your child’s school know that your child is struggling so they can offer support. It may also be worth looking into support from your local NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).   

If your child doesn't want to talk

Make sure you go at your child’s pace when offering them support. If they don’t want to talk about how they’re feeling, don’t force them. You can also:

  • Try using non-verbal ways to record emotions. This could include a diary, writing, texting, drawing or using a ‘feelings thermometer’. Use cards with different emotions on them to help them take note of what they’re feeling. Or suggest post-its on the fridge to show emotions, with a signal to show if they want a response or not.
  • Create space for conversation to happen throughout the day. Going for a walk, taking a drive, or sitting at the table after dinner can help open up pressure-free moments.
  • Look at apps like Think Ninja or Kooth.  These offer you child an independent place to reflect on feelings or access support.

    Get support for yourself

    It’s important that you also get support. Remember to be kind to yourself – parenting is different for everyone, and it’s not always easy. Being able to work through your emotions will put you in a stronger position to help your child.

    Try to speak to someone you trust about what’s happening. You can also find strategies online to help you cope. Mind has advice on this.

    If you need to speak to someone independent, call the NHS urgent mental health helpline. Or text ‘Shout’ to 85258 for 24/7 mental health text support. You may also want to talk to your GP about what you’re experiencing. If you’re in crisis, please call one of the helplines listed above.

    Our parenting coaches are here to help with the day-to-day issues of parenting and how to support the wellbeing of your family in the longer-term. Our opening times are:

    • 12.30pm – 7.30pm Monday
    • 10.30am – 4.30pm Tuesday
    • 9.30am – 4.30pm Wednesday
    • 12.30pm – 7.30pm Thursday
    • 9.30am – 4pm Friday

    Visit our chat page to start a conversation. If our coaches aren’t online, you can leave us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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