Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, we remember those affected by suicide – siblings, parents, children, friends or co-workers – and recognize the infinite sorrow and questioning a death by suicide brings to those grieving the incredibly sad loss of a loved one.
Many different situations and experiences can lead someone to consider suicide. The teen years especially present many significant life changes and for some, these situations lead to overwhelming thoughts or feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. For some teens, coping with overwhelming emotions may lead to substance use or self-harm.
Whether you are a parent or teacher, as CEO, Rebecca Shields says in her latest YorkRegion.com column, “Creating safe spaces for loved ones to talk openly about their mental health challenges is of paramount importance. It’s critical to reduce the stigma associated with depression, substance abuse and self-harm.”
In alignment with creating hope through action, our Youth Wellness team is offering ways to recognize warning signs and how to offer your support as a parent/guardian or educator.
Maintain Open Communication
- Establish an environment where your teen feels comfortable talking about their feelings and concerns.
- Regularly check in with them and ask open-ended questions about their current life experiences, such as school, friendships, work or hobbies.
- Be an attentive listener and avoid judgement to encourage them to express themselves without fear or worry
Recognize Warning Sings
- Understand the warning signs of depression and suicidal thoughts. These may include:
- sudden changes in behaviour
- withdrawal from friends and activities
- decline in school performance
- giving away possessions
- expressing feelings of hopelessness
- If you notice any of these signs, reach out to your teen for an open and honest conversation and seek professional support if needed.
Seek Professional Support
- If you suspect your teen is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for support.
- CMHA York Region South Simcoe is proud to offer a variety of programs for youth like Community Connections, BounceBack Ontario (for teens 15-17 years old), Youth Wellness and MOBYSS to name a few. To learn more, click here.
- If you are in a crisis, the Community Crisis Response line is available 24/7 – call or text 1-855-310-COPE (2673) to speak with a crisis worker. Or call 9-1-1.
Create a Supportive and Inclusive Classroom Environment
- Foster a classroom atmosphere where students feel safe expressing their authentic selves and their feelings or emotions.
- Promote open discussions about mental health and let students know you’re available to talk if they need it.
Know the Signs
- Understand the warning signs of suicide and mental distress – watch for changes in behaviour, social isolation, decline in academic performance, and verbal expressions of hopelessness.
- If you’re concerned about a student, consult your school’s mental health resources or professionals.
Refer to Resources
Increasing mental health awareness and reducing stigma starts with all of us. As a parent/guardian or teacher, you have the power to create safe spaces and normalize mental health conversations. We are here to help. For information about our community education and training program, click here.
Join Us for a Live Virtual Event: Talking to Your Teen about their Mental Health with Dr. Wendy Manel and Kylee Goldman
Whether you’re a parent, family member or someone working with youth, every adult in a child’s life has a role to play in helping them maintain a positive sense of well-being.
Join us on September 20, 2023, via Zoom for a free webinar with our very own Dr. Wendy Manel and Kylee Goldman on how you can support youth mental health. Click here to register today.