How to Cope if Your Child Has Attempted Suicide
When a child tries to take their own life, it is difficult for a parent to comprehend their decision. While there may be warning signs, everyone responds differently to life events. As a parent, it is easy to turn to self-blame, trying to attribute your child’s actions onto yourself.
When your child is released from medical care, the transition to home and life can be difficult. You and your family will likely require patience and support; however, adjusting to life after a suicide attempt is not easy for anyone in the family. It is best to take it one day at a time. Here are some ways to begin to cope and navigate life following your child’s suicide attempt.
The journey back home and toward a good headspace will take time, and leaving the hospital is only the first phase. The medical team at the hospital will provide families with a plan for recovery and treatment, and this plan will likely include at least one of several treatment options.
- Intensive outpatient care
- Structured environments
- Residential facilities
- Partial hospital care
- Outpatient psychotherapy
Your child’s treatment plan will be unique to them. As a parent, you should work with your child’s medical team to ensure your home is a safe space that can allow your child to begin to heal. Your child’s medical team is should be there to help you and your family during the transition to home.
Rebuilding or Developing Lines of Communication
Talking to your child can be difficult after a suicide attempt, there are bound to be feelings of guilt, shame, discomfort, anxiety, and embarrassment. While it may uncomfortable, it is vital that the lines of communication remain open. Focus on phrases of support and compassion, but make sure this supportive dialogue is honest. Demonstrate that you are there to listen and support your child no matter what.
Also, talk with your child’s therapist(s), who can be helpful in teaching you how to keep open lines of communication. They can also offer coping mechanisms for you and your child to use.
Remembering that You Have Feelings Too
While it is crucial that your child receives all the help they can, it is also vital that you take care of yourself as well. A suicide attempt can have resounding effects on the entire family, including the parents or guardians. Therefore, find a counselor you are comfortable with and talk about your feelings and any confusion, anger, resentment, or fear you may be dealing with.
Returning to Life
Once your family has had time to heal, it can be beneficial to return to “normal” activities, like school, church, sports, etc. Before diving back into social activities, there should be a conversation about boundaries and what your child is comfortable discussing with peers and friends. It’s also important to assess their readiness and willingness to return to school and life. Again, this is where a therapist and school guidance counselor can offer support.
For parents interested in attempted suicide support for families, you can look to the NAMI Family Support Group, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Trevor Project.
For families and teens who need ongoing treatment follow attempted suicide, Pyramid Healthcare offers outpatient mental health treatment programs throughout Pennsylvania. Reach out to our admissions department for more information.
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