What Parents Need to Know About Suicide – Part One

painAre you a parent who has been fearful your son or daughter might be thinking of killing themselves? Do you know what the warning signs are? Did you feel a great sense of denial and at the same time tremendous fear to ask them if they felt suicidal? Were you completely ignorant what to do? Don’t feel bad. I did, too. So has every mom or dad who has been in this situation. You’re not alone.

I have some great news for you. There is a very simple, easy- to-learn strategy you can use that could save their life – or anyone’s. This information is from an expert  who developed this strategy called QPR, Dr. Paul Quinnett. When you see clues and warning signs to suicide you should follow the three steps of QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer.

BUT – the first thing you need to know are the most common warning signs of suicide. So let’s begin there. In my next post I will share the details of QPR.

Direct verbal clues: I’ve decided to kill myself. I wish I were dead. I’m going to commit suicide. I’m going to end it all. If (such and such) doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.  A lot of people talk like this these days (especially very emotional teenagers!) so we tend not to take them to heart. But any statements like these should be taken seriously.

Indirect or coded verbal clues: I’m tired of life. What’s the point of going on? I’m done. I can’t do this any more. I wish I was never born. You would be better off without me. Who cares if I’m dead anyway? I just want out. Soon I won’t be around any more. Soon you won’t have to worry about me any longer.

Behavioral clues: Putting personal affairs in order. Giving away money or prized personal possessions. Changes in behavior, especially episodes of screaming or hitting, throwing things, or failure to get along with family or friends. Suspicious behavior like waving or kissing goodbye if it is not characteristic; being much nicer than usual – kind to a sibling they always fight with, etc. Sudden interest in church or religion. Relapse into drug or alcohol use after a period of recovery (so much shame and not wanting to start all over). A previous suicide attempt.

Situational Clues: Any significant loss – rejection by a loved one (girlfriend, boyfriend or peer), or an unwanted separation or divorce. Death of a friend, spouse or child (especially if by suicide). Diagnosis of terminal illness or life-altering disease/physical impairment. Flare up with friends or relatives for no apparent reason. Sudden unexpected loss of freedom (e.g. about to be arrested; receiving a long jail sentence). Loss of cherished counselor or therapist. Anticipated loss of financial security – fired, loss of job. Expelled from school. Fear of becoming a burden to others. Anything that causes feelings of powerlessness.

Fear and denial often blind us to seeing these warning signs. It feels too frightening to accept the possibility. But don’t be hard on yourself. Denial is how we cope with something that is too terrible to contemplate.  Ask God to help you accept that you did hear what you heard, you did see what you thought you did. He can open your eyes to understand the number one myth about suicide – that “People who talk about suicide don’t do it”, or that “they’re only seeking attention”. The fact is people who talk about or threaten suicide often do go on to attempt or complete suicide. To prevent a suicide we must overcome this dangerous form of denial and find the courage to apply Dr. Quinnett’s strategy.

In my next blog I will address the number one cause of suicidal behavior and outline the QPR technique.

This Scripture always encourages me in tough times:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?

 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth . . .

 The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand.”  (Psalm 121:1-5)

* This information is from: qprinstitute.com

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