How to Get Help If Your Teen Is Suicidal

Take any threats of suicide very seriously.
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If your teen makes comments about wishing he could die or if you gain information that would lead you to believe he's been thinking about killing himself, take it very seriously. Most teens who complete suicide talk about it in some way to someone before they follow through.

Don't ever assume your teen is just talking about suicide because he "wants attention." Ignoring his pain or minimizing his problems could have lethal consequences.

There is help available if your teen is suicidal. Seek appropriate treatment and get your teen the help he needs right away. 

When the Risk of Suicide Is Imminent

If your teen is in at risk of killing himself right now, call your local police department or 911 right away. Imminent danger includes a teen in possession of a weapon, pills or other means to carry through on their threat. 

If it is safe to do so, you may also drive your teenager to the emergency room. The ER will assess your teen's mental and physical health and create a clear plan that will help keep your teen safe. 

When the Threat Is Serious But Not Imminent

If your teen says he's thinking about killing himself or you discover text messages or note he's written about wanting to die, it's important to take immediate action. You have several options when it comes to getting help.

1. Call a crisis hotline.

You can contact a national suicide prevention hotline to learn more about your options.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • This confidential crisis intervention hotline is available 24 hours daily and staffed by trained counselors. The counselor answering the call can talk to you, and directly to your teen as well, to identify mental health resources in your area and help figure out what next steps to take to keep your teen safe. 

2. Call your teen's health care provider.

  • State the seriousness of the situation and request an urgent appointment, as well as assistance over the phone if needed.
  • This is a healthcare emergency. Your provider can help in evaluating the extent of the risk and their knowledge about your teen will be helpful in determining next steps. They can also make a referral for hospitalization if needed. 

3. Call a psychiatric hospital or the emergency room of the hospital closest to you.

  • Hospitals are designed to deal with emergency situations and can advise you on how to get your teen the help they need. In some communities, a mobile evaluation unit can be dispatched to a psychiatric hospital or community crisis center.

3. Call your teens’ therapist, if he has one.

  • Contact the therapist on an emergency basis and request assistance. 
  • A therapist who knows your teen will be in a good position to help determine what steps to take to ensure your teens’ safety and can recommend crisis resources in your area. 
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