Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Signs parents should be aware of if their child is struggling

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 4:08 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:44 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

11 News spoke with the Children’s Hospital Colorado about signs parents should be aware of it their child is struggling with their mental health.

“I don’t think there’s a time where it’s too early to start talking about even big feelings, starting to lay some foundation, big feelings happen, why they happen, how do we deal with big feelings,” said Dr. Marissa Nunes-Moreno, clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Children’s reports this time of year, doctors normally see a significant increase in patients seeking mental health help and treatment. In September 2021, anywhere from 15-40 kids went each day to the emergency departments at Children’s Hospital Colorado suffering from a mental health crisis.

According to Children’s, suicide is a leading cause of death for youth in Colorado. Children’s reports families across the state are hungry for information on how to identify and help kids in crisis and what to do to prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place. Children’s first town hall in February had more than 800 people in attendance.

Here are some signs parents should be on the lookout for:

- A drastic change in personality or mood

- Withdrawal or isolation from family and friends

- Increase in risky behaviors or poor judgement

- Decline in school

- Multiple signs of change may help parents differentiate typical teenage behaviors versus a teenager who is really struggling

Parents can sit down with their child and ask:

- What do you know about young people having really big emotions or a hard time with mental health?

- How do you know when someone needs help, with things like suicide?

- What do you know about suicide?

- How do you know when you need help with mental health?

- Do you know how or where to reach out for help when you need it?

“Having these conversations early on so we can normalize conversations around mental health, around big feelings, around difficult thoughts, these are things that we can talk about as a family, is only going to help them as they get older,” said Nunes-Moreno.

Children’s wants to remind parents of the helplines available, including the 988 National Suicide Hotline.