Why I Talked To My Daughter About Suicide

Why I Talked To My Daughter About Suicide

suicide awareness month

Despite being a therapist, at times, I find it incredibly challenging to have more serious or in-depth conversations with my teenager. I am often thoughtful when interacting with my teen clients, but for some reason talking to my own daughter presents its own sets of challenges. She is incredibly private and often does not share much about her life. Since September is Suicide Awareness Month, I thought I would ask her a few questions, to which she begrudgingly agreed (after some bribes).

Have you had any conversations with friends who had any sort of suicidal thoughts or behaviors?

She replied that she hasn’t had many conversations that go deep into the topic, but she has had friends discuss suicidal thoughts and has known friends/acquaintances who have used self-harm or even attempted. Even attempted. This captured my attention. Our kids are talking with their peers about very deep personal issues. How often are we, as parents, having these conversations with our kids? How much do we really know about our kids? Again, I will admit, this is the first time I bring up this topic with my 15-year-old.

What is your response when friends discuss this with you?

Her reply to this was just to comfort them. While I agree that listening certainly helps, it is also important to educate our children on how to appropriately handle something of this nature. How can they help? While this may be a very deep topic of conversation that is difficult to discuss, being able to acknowledge suicidal threats/feelings allows the other person to know that they should not feel ashamed. Ask if they have a plan and any steps they have done to carry out their plan. Doing this does not encourage the person to act or carry out. Instead, it allows them to feel like they have someone that is willing to listen to them. After this difficult conversation, encourage your child to alert an adult or seek additional help.

Is there a point in which you feel like you would alert an adult?

She mentioned that she would alert an adult if someone had an actual plan to carry out suicide or engage in self-harm.

During adolescence, our children are trying to build autonomy for themselves and figure out who they are. This is often a confusing time for many as they try to navigate academics, peer groups, extracurriculars, and family. Be open to having conversations with your teen about their views, even if they are different or don’t align with your own. This will make them feel like they can talk to you about the tough stuff or any scary thoughts they may be feeling. And suicide is too important a subject to ignore, doing so could cause a life.

If you are concerned, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Changes in mood, for example: increased depression, increase anxiety, anger, increased irritability, mood swings
  • Changes in behavior: isolating themselves more often, not doing activities that they normally enjoy, withdrawing
  • Impulsivity: an increase in reckless, or “acting out” behaviors (think substance use, alcohol use, promiscuity, driving recklessly).
  • Talking about dying, not wanting to be around: Parents should pay close attention if their child is making statements of self-harm or discussing how the world would be better without them in it.
  • Changing in eating/sleeping patterns

If your child needs immediate help due to having suicidal thoughts, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. If there is an immediate safety concern, call 911 or go the nearest emergency room.


Brittany Gallineau
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who owns Soleil Counseling Practice. I received a bachelor’s in psychology from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2006 and a Master of Arts degree in clinical psychology from Sam Houston University in 2008. I hold two separate licenses and one certification. I am a licensed professional counselor in the states of Louisiana and Texas, Licensed Psychological Associate in Texas, and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. I provide counseling services to teenagers and adults. I’ve also recently joined the board for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) a nonprofit organization that advocates for children in the foster care system. I have two children, Bella (15 years) and Julien (2 years). In my free time, I enjoy running and taking fitness classes. I also love the various community events that Lafayette has to offer such as Downtown Alive, Rhythms on the River, and Festival International.