(The Daily Dish) September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and a time to raise awareness of this stigmatized, and often taboo, topic. Today we have McCall Lyon, PsyD, teleconsultation director at The Children’s Center Utah joining us to discuss the subject.
McCall says that even more taboo is the idea of children having suicidal ideations but according to the Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS) in 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 17. Children don’t just wake up one day at such a young age and commit suicide at a such young age – there are many things are happening before that and ideation starts much earlier than age 10. Suicidality is not an uncommon referral for The Children’s Center Utah to receive despite their focus on ages from 0-6.
Parents and caregivers need to understand that even very young children can express wanting to kill themselves or a desire to die. This is often because children don’t understand the permanency of death and they may be modeling what they have heard from peers, family, or the media. They may also simply be trying to express how big their emotions are and may lack more appropriate ways of doing so.
While very young children are less likely to follow through with suicide or have access to the tools to do so, it is still important for caregivers to respond to these big feelings their children are expressing. By acknowledging these big feelings and providing early intervention, we can build the child a future where they bypass this scenario altogether.
You should seek immediate mental health support if your child of any age expresses a desire to die. You can contact the Huntsman Mental Health Institute crisis line for crisis intervention by dialing 988 or you can contact The Children’s Center Utah which can provide mental health services for children six and younger.
Always dial 911 in case of an immediate emergency.