Recently, a student reached out to me and asked me, “What do I do to stop thinking about suicide?”
When I tried to call the seventh-grader back, I got a “this mailbox is full” message. Hopefully I will get a response to the text I sent after that call.
Unfortunately, I got this message about 12 hours late – and that kind of scares me. I will be anxious to hear back. Thankfully, I was able to do my homework and find out where this person goes to school. I know people in that community.
I urge any young person who is thinking about suicide to reach out to a trusted adult.
Let me make this clear: if you are thinking about suicide, you have got to talk to someone. Now.
Do you know if the thoughts you are having are healthy thoughts? Unhealthy thoughts?
If you are thinking about ending your life, what I want to know is why.
What happened most recently – or is this an ongoing thought?
If this is an ongoing thought – I want to encourage you to find that trusted adult in your life that is going to validate your thoughts and feelings – a person who is going to talk to you and find out why you are thinking this way.
If this is something that just happened in the past day or so and you think it’s the end of the world – hold on. Let’s take a time-out. Let’s stop and think about this.
I made the above video because 17 percent of high school seniors are seriously thinking about wanting to end their lives.
Last year, we had about 170,000 young people brought into the ER with a failed suicide attempt, and of those, roughly 35 percent will try again and succeed.
1) If you are having serious thoughts of wanting to end your life, I ask you to step back. DO NOT MAKE A DECISION BASED ON YOUR EMOTIONS.
2) Take a time-out and determine who is the trusted adult in your life.
I want to tell you that you need to talk to a therapist or a mental health professional, but I know that if I say that to you right now, you are going to cringe.
Let’s not go there.
Let’s make sure you take a time out and that you are not making any decision based on your emotions.
Who is your trusted adult?
Is it a parent? A coach? A teacher? Is it one of your friends’ parents or maybe a youth pastor?
I want you to make a phone call, send a text or go visit this trusted adult. Allow yourself to open your heart.
You might say – “Well, Jeff – I don’t know what to say or what exactly I am thinking or feeling. I’m just not happy.”
It’s OK. Any trusted adult that knows young people and that cares about young people is going to know what to say and what to do.
If you are that trusted adult, the fact that you are asking the question and you care about this person in front of you is way more important than you knowing the right questions to ask.
Our young people want to know the answers to two of their questions: Can I trust you? Do you care about me?
If you are that trusted adult, just be present in this child’s life and let them know you care.
Young people – I need you to understand that we can’t help you if we don’t know.
Don’t react on emotion. Find that trusted adult to talk to – and talking to that trusted adult is way more important than making sure you have your math done at school.
I am not saying school’s not important, my friends – but I am talking about real life.
Suicide is never the answer. It’s a permanent action to a situation you might be going through that is temporary.
Your feelings matter.
People want to help you, but they can’t help you if they don’t know you are hurting.
The teen suicide epidemic continues to grow, and I believe it ties into mental illness – what is quickly becoming the largest public health crisis of our time. My latest book, Teen Suicide: The "Why" Behind America's Suicide Epidemic, covers these topics in depth. I encourage you to order your copy HERE.