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Suicide Risk in Children and Adolescents

It’s important to learn the potential signs of depression in children. Things that were once fun may now bring little joy to a depressed child. And a child who used to play often with friends may now spend most of the time alone and without interests.

Depressed children are at increased risk for committing suicide. Children and adolescents who are depressed may talk about suicide or say they want to be dead. Depressed adolescents may abuse alcohol or other drugs as a way of trying to feel better. 

In Idaho, suicide is a leading cause of death among children, adolescents and young adults. It doesn’t have to be that way, if we can learn to talk about it.

If your child or adolescent is expressing thoughts of suicide, please seek immediate attention by contacting your physician or calling 911. 

Highlights & Resources


Compassionate expertise for your child, whether he or she needs support during times of instability or help learning to cope with an ongoing condition.
  • If I have thoughts of suicide, I can...
    • Step 1: Find positive ways to distract myself, like listening to music, watching funny videos, going for a walk or run, drawing, painting, playing a video game, taking a hot or cold shower, etc.
    • Step 2: Keep a list of friends or relatives I can call to distract me from thoughts of suicide or go to a location that is socially engaging or active (park, coffee shop, library, etc).
    • Step 3: Make sure I’m eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water, getting exercise, sleeping, limiting exposure to negative media, and talking with my primary care doctor about my health.
    • Step 4: Remind myself of reasons for living, what is most important to me (family, friends, pet, food, video games, etc.).
    • Step 5: Call someone I trust and can talk with about my thoughts of suicide, someone who can help me find the support I need to stay safe (close friend, family member, teacher, etc.).
    • Step 6: Have others help me restrict my access to guns, large quantities of medication (prescribed and over the counter), ropes, cords or other items I have thought about using for suicide.
    • Step 7: Call my mental health therapist, family doctor, psychiatrist or the Idaho Crisis & Suicide Hotline at 988 (24 hours a day/7 days a week).
    • Step 8: Call 911 or go to the emergency department for evaluation.
  • How to Help Someone Having Thoughts of Suicide
    If someone is showing warning signs of suicidal behavior, talks about a suicide plan or intent to follow through with suicide, you can help:

    • Talk with them, don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide,” listen, find out more about what is going on in their life. Don’t assume it’s about getting attention.
    • Remove, restrict or lock up lethal means including pills (prescription and nonprescription), guns, knives, ropes, cords, etc.
    • Reassure them you love and care about them. Offer understanding, hope and resources.
    • Keep an eye on them, sit with them, hold them, allow them to sleep in your room, walk with them.
    • Support them in maintaining involvement in positive social activities.
    • Do not be sworn to secrecy. Seek trained help as soon as possible (their doctor, suicide hotline, mental health therapist).
    • Offer to call the suicide hotline with or for them.
    • Take them to the emergency department for evaluation.

Related Conditions

Depression in Children

Persistent depression that interferes with a child’s or adolescent’s daily life and ability to function.