When a young adult survives a suicide attempt, parents may not know how to help their family move forward. Parents may feel an initial shock, having no clue that their son or daughter felt so hopeless. Parents may feel angry or guilty about their child’s decision or may quickly place blame. It is normal for emotions to run high- from being scared that suicide will be attempted again to being unsure of how to support their young adult in recovery- parents may have a hard time accepting the situation.
Learning about young adult suicide – the risks, the warning signs, and how to react after an attempt- may help parents grasp the situation and figure out a plan for recovery. Gaining information on young adult suicide may prevent future suicide attempts. The more parents know about suicide, the more comfortable they may feel when discussing it with their young adults. Parents may feel empowered by researching and reading about young adult suicide.
Jesse Viner, MD, Founder & Executive Medical Director of Yellowbrick, understands that parents need resources regarding young adult suicide. He created a simple to understand mental health infographic, Parenting Young Adults: 9 Vital Answers About Depression and Suicide, which contains information on young adult suicide. Dr. Viner has decades of psychiatric experience, and specializes in treating people ages 18-30 at Yellowbrick, a mental health organization located north of Chicago. Dr. Viner has assisted young adults and their families in recuperating after a suicide attempt by providing an array of therapeutic services like individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and experiential treatments like yoga, meditation, and art therapy.
Dr. Viner points out that while there are no proven warning signs that absolutely predict suicide, parents should tune into social and emotional cues. Parents really need to pay close attention to changes in mood or routines. When young adults feel suicidal, they may choose to spend all of their time in solitude, they may feel severely depressed or hopeless, or they may be experiencing additional mental health problems that require professional help, like bipolar disorder or anorexia nevosa.
Parents should be open and express their concerns if they notice a decline in their son or daughter’s social and emotional health. Often times, parents need to make the first move in initiating conversation about mental health. After all, it may be rare for young adults to step forward with delicate information about themselves. Teenagers and young adults tend to hide their feelings, their fears, their insecurities, and their anxieties. They need a safe and secure environment to process their innermost feelings. Parents can offer support by listening without judgment and accepting the hurt that their son or daughter feels. Starting a conversation about mental health with a struggling young adult may be a powerful means of suicide prevention.
The guide also highlights the steps that young adults can take after a suicide attempt. Dr. Viner recommends that young adults start therapeutic services after attempting suicide. Young adults should be involved in forming their suicide recovery plan and should be included in selecting a mental health provider. In counseling, young adults develop trustworthy relationships with trained professionals and have the opportunity to process their emotions, fears, and anxieties in a supportive environment. Throughout the course of therapeutic treatment after a suicide attempt, young adults should take steps in finding meaning to their lives. This may mean taking classes, getting a job, or volunteering within the community. Young adults should find activities they enjoy and spend time with people they like. Resuming daily routines and reactivating relationships with others will take time. When young adults find their niche, they may feel like life is worth living and their likelihood of attempting suicide will be reduced.