Dear Dr. Michelle:
I found a comment on my daughter’s social media having to do with feeling hopeless and not wanting to be around anymore. I am worried about her but do not want to make it a big deal if it’s not. What should I do?
I am so glad you reached out. This can be a very scary situation for any parent and it’s made more challenging by concerns about whether your child will think you’re violating their privacy.
Your daughter’s post could very well be a cry for help, and you are right to take it seriously. Actions like this require your immediate attention. It is best that you talk to her directly; tell her what you read and that you are concerned about her having suicidal thoughts. Be supportive and empathetic. Ask questions. Allow her time to answer and listen carefully to her words. This is not a time for you to judge, discipline or scold. Even if she denies feeling suicidal, create a plan for extra supervision. Until you get to the bottom of what is going on, do not leave her alone for long periods of time. The best course of action is to seek therapy; suicidal thoughts and feelings need support and careful assessment by a professional.
Watch for the following signs that things might be getting worse:
- retreating and disconnecting from normal daily activities
- sleeping longer than usual
- isolation from peers
- problems with friendships
- talking about not caring about anything
- giving away personal items
If your daughter admits having a desire to hurt herself, take her to the Emergency Room for immediate assessment as extra safety precautions need to be put in place. When it comes to the safety of your daughter, do not ever worry about overreacting – just act.
If you or someone you know is in distress, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Dear Dr. Michelle blog posts are informational in nature. The posts are not meant to take the place of consulting your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health providers regarding your well-being or the well-being of others. Submitting a question does not establish a client/therapist relationship.
Submit Your Question on mental health and/or family relations to Dr. Michelle K. Murray.