Resources / For families

Myths and truths about suicide

myths and truths about suicide
Brightline Logo Mark Orange
Brightline team

Mar 22, 2023

There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) out there about suicide. Learn the truth so you can show up with consistent and accurate information to support your child or teen.For:Helps with:Parents & caregivers of kids ages 10-17Family communication, Sadness & depression

Adolescence can be a really stressful and intense time — young people are learning how to cope with pressure and navigate overwhelming emotions. Learning the risks and warning signs for suicide will be crucial to keeping your child or teen safe.

This isn’t about just observing your child — it’s about having an ongoing conversation with them. The more you show your child that you’re listening and you care, the more likely they’ll be to come to you when they’re having a hard time. (Check out our discussion guide for guidance on how to talk to your child about suicide.) You’ll want to let your child know that you’re there for them — unconditionally — for support.Before we dive in, let’s take a look at a few common myths and truths when it comes to suicide.

Myth: If I bring up suicide with my child, it’ll put the idea in their head.

Truth: Kids and teens are getting all sorts of messages about suicide from the media and their peers. There’s no evidence to support the concern that screening for or asking about suicide will provoke suicidal thoughts or actions. Opening the conversation gives your child a trustworthy place to get information about support, and it lets them know you’re there for them. It creates a safe and nonjudgmental environment for them to talk about suicide.

Myth: Kids and teens who mention thoughts of suicide are just seeking attention.Truth: All warning signs of suicide should be taken seriously, regardless of their context. Whether it’s a passing mention or a suicide plan, they are communicating that they need support.

Myth: If my child won’t have the conversation with me, they won’t be able to get help.

Truth: Some kids and teens won’t be open to talking about suicide (at least right away). But it’s still important to let them know the door is open and they can always come to you. And luckily, conversations aren’t the only way to support your child. Some young people may prefer written communication like texting or writing letters. You can always encourage them to talk to another trusted adult, and you can also give them the number for a crisis text line (one option: text HOME to 741-741).