Teen Suicide and Self-Harm Are Preventable
As a parent, the thought that one of your children may consider harming themselves is one of the most terrifying, perplexing, and heart-wrenching ideas imaginable.
At Evolve Treatment Centers, we’re experts in helping teens identify and process the thoughts and feelings that lead to self-harming behaviors, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
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Our goal is to keep your child physically safe and emotionally supported as they work through these issues and find hope in their time of pain and difficulty.
If you think your child is at risk, your first and most powerful instinct is to help them. But it’s likely you have no idea where to start. A thousand questions crowd your mind, starting with the most basic:
Question #1: How do I know if my teen is suicidal or considering self-harm?
It’s important to understand the risk factors associated with teen suicide and self-harm. Issues and events that can lead to suicidal ideation or self-harm include, but are not limited to:
- Emotional, behavioral, or psychiatric disorders. Depression and substance use disorders are those most often connected to suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors.
- Personal history of self-harm or suicide attempts
- Personal history of suicidal ideation
- History of trauma
- Feeling overwhelmed, experiencing loss in productivity or confidence
- Family history of psychiatric disorders, self-harm, or suicidal behavior
- Peers engaging in self harm
- Loss of close family members or friends, especially if it the loss is due to suicide
- Major conflict with close family members or friends
- Experiencing bullying, either online or in real life
- Struggles with identity issues
If your teen talks or posts online about suicide or self-harming behaviors, take it seriously, even if all your instincts tell you they’re just being dramatic. Seriously: the slightest chance that you could be wrong is not worth the risk of minimizing anything remotely approaching talk of self-harm or suicidal ideation. Pay special attention if your teen says things like:
“I won’t be a problem for long.”
“You’ll be better off without me.”
“I’m a burden to everyone.”
“I want it all to go away.”
“Ugggh. I feel so (sad/rotten/broken/awful) inside.”
“I wish I was dead.”
It’s worth repeating: Do not take statements like these lightly. The risk of inaction is unthinkable.
Question #2: Does self-harm or cutting indicate suicidal intentions?
This answer is not simple. Self-harming behaviors often go hand-in-hand with suicide attempts, but not always. Which makes the answer to this question tricky and means taking self-harming behavior and cutting less seriously than suicidal ideation is not worth the risk. Behaviors like cutting are indicative of significant emotional pain and are a strong indicator that a teen needs professional help and treatment sooner rather than later.
Question #3 What steps should I take if I discover my teen is engaging in self-harming behavior or if I think my teen is considering suicide?
Step 1: Talk to Your Teen
Love, support, and listen to your child without judgment. Communicate in a calm, cool, and collected manner. Avoid adding drama to the situation. Validate their emotions and let them know you’re there for them no matter what.
Step 2: If You Determine Your Teen is in Crisis or is at Imminent Risk, Call 911 or Go to the Emergency Room Immediately.
Step 3: If You Determine Your Teen is NOT in Crisis or at Imminent Risk, Work with a Mental Health Professional to Determine the Best Course of Action for Your Teen.
Depending on the severity of your teen’s distress, common treatment options include:
- Residential Treatment Programs
- Partial Hospitalization Programs
- Intensive Outpatient Therapy
- Outpatient Therapy
Question #4 How does Evolve help suicidal or self-harming teens?
We use the latest evidence-based therapies to treat your teen, including:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Individual Counseling
- Family Counseling
- Experiential Therapy
- Mindfulness-based complementary therapies
Question #5 How does Evolve keep suicidal and self-harming teens safe?
We provide safe, modern facilities with all the comforts of home. Teens eat, sleep, and receive therapy and treatment on-site in one of our residential treatment centers.
- We monitor your teen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Our 24/7 teen-staff ratio is 3:1.
- We maintain a small milieu – only 6 teens per house.
- We have state of the art monitoring equipment.
- Overnight staff are awake, stationed in the bedroom wing of the house so they’re available to the teens at all times. They know if your teen gets up during the night. In addition, bed checks are done every 15 minutes.
- Fully licensed and accredited physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, and therapists monitor and assess the health, safety, and psychological wellbeing of your teen. If they’re struggling, we can increase staffing to 1:1 supervision.
- Rooms are safe and free of items that teens may use to harm themselves. We minimize risk by keeping bedrooms simple. Teens keep clothes and only approved personal items in their room – other than that, bedrooms are for sleeping.
- Our staff is extensively trained in identifying risky behaviors.
- We perform a variety of safety checks multiple times per day.
- A strict line of sight rule: we keep at-risk teens in view at all times.
- We have a strict facility access policy: all internal doors are locked at all times, including bathrooms, kitchens (including kitchen storerooms/equipment), offices, and recreation rooms/areas when not in use.
- Off-site excursions are well-planned, appropriate, and tightly monitored