Counselors Say Communication Can Prevent Teen Suicide

Wednesday, September 26th 2012, 7:06 pm
By: News On 6

The tragic suicide of a Stillwater eighth-grader, Wednesday, has brought the tough issue of teen suicide to the minds of many.

Wednesday morning, police said 13-year-old Cade Poulos shot himself in the hallway before classes started, in front of a group of other students.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers, but mental health experts say if you know the warning signs, it can be preventable.

9/26/2012 Related Story: Student Dead After Self-Inflicted Shooting At Stillwater Junior High School

Suicide is not an easy subject to talk about, but counselors say parents need to be aware and talk to their kids, especially if the child begins to show changes in their behavior.

"All kinds of different decisions can affect a child and cause them to make a decision like that," Stephanie Andrews.

Andrews is a counselor for Tulsa Public Schools.

She said depression, grief over the loss of a friend, or trouble at school can lead a child to consider suicide.

But, she says, teens always talk about killing themselves first before going through with it.

"[They talk] to a friend, to someone. It's a myth that no one knows," Andrews said.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said warning signs include withdrawing from friends and family, using drugs or drinking alcohol, changes in eating and sleeping habits, or starting to neglect their personal appearance.

Andrews said TPS has cards on-hand at every school, which include the number for a suicide prevention hotline. And the school district has a section of its website for concerned family and friends to report a troubled student.

She said it's important to take seriously any comment a child makes about suicide.

"We often have thought that children who say, 'I want to kill myself,'—I think that's another myth that they're just doing that for attention, and I would say that's not at all true, that they often will carry through," Andrews said.

Andrews said the tragedy in Stillwater can serve as a reminder for parents to keep open the lines of communication with their children, especially as they become teenagers

"It's easy as they get older to allow their peer groups be that main relationship, and I think it's really powerful to still be engaged with your teens," Andrews said.

If you know or suspect anyone of any age is having suicidal thoughts, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).