As a parent, you may worry that asking about suicide may make it more likely, but that isn't the case. Asking is very important. For children who may have a hard time expressing or admitting they need help, it sends the message that you care about them and that it is OK to ask for help.
In 2019, approximately one in five youths seriously considered attempting suicide, one in six made a suicide plan, one in eleven had made an attempt, and one in forty made an attempt requiring medical treatment. Each year, 6,062 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 die by suicide.
Suicide is a very sensitive topic and one that can be difficult to discuss. Many experts suggest that less is more with young children who have not been affected directly by suicide. If your child hears about it in passing or on television, explain that it means that someone died because they have a disease that makes them very sad. If you are talking to an older child, you can explain that someone can have a disease called depression that makes them very sad all the time and they do not think there is anything that will make them feel better. Because they feel this way, they do something to themselves to end their life so they can end their sadness. For children who have been impacted directly by suicide, you can add that it is not their fault, they did not cause it, and they could not have stopped it. Start a discussion with your child about who they would talk to if they ever felt very sad and remind them that you are always there for them.