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Teen Suicide Risk: How Parents Can Assess Their Grieving Children

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Assessing Grief

If your child or teenager is overcome by grief, how serious is it? Our parenting experts and authors, Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley, have important ways to assess the signs. Here is an excerpt from their excellent book, Teen Grief Relief.

Let's look at a few questions that could help you sort out a person's real risk for ending his or her life.

Assess their risk levels - and yours  -  by honestly answering the following questions:

1. Have I thought about or mentioned suicide?

(There are references to teens' stories from previous pages.)

Admad's response of wishing he'd been with his father doesn't necessarily put him at high risk for suicide. It's not unusual for people who have suffered losses to say that they wish it had been them or that they don't want to live.

However, wishing you had gone with your loved one and having thoughts of killing yourself, like Jay, are very different thoughts.

2. Do I have a plan?

Jay has a loose plan. He could drive his car off a cliff or into a tree. If your answer is "yes," you need to tall someone now.

Tell a parent, a teacher, a therapist, a minister or a friend, or pick up the phone and ask information to give you the suicide-prevention hot line. You may even be put through to one especially for teens.

3. Do I have what I need to carry out the plan?

Jay has access to a car, so he does have the means to carry out the plan. If you do, get rid of it.

Flush the pills, toss the rope, turn in the gun, give up the car keys. Don't do anything spontaneously right now. Call someone whom you know can help you, or call the suicide hot line.



. Hopeless

. Helpless

. Worthless

Thinking or Saying Things Like

. I wish I was never born.

. I wish I was dead.

. Nobody cares if I'm alive or dead.

. Everyone (or certain people) will be better off if I'm dead.

. If I kill myself, nobody will have to worry about me anymore.

Doing Things Like

. Skipping school and getting poor grades.

. Giving away your clothes, jewelry, sports equipment, books, CDs and other personal things.

. Eating and /or sleeping a lot more or a lot less than you used to eat or sleep.

. No longer caring about personal hygiene.


To find out more risky behaviors and how to create a safety net go to page 40 of Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding, Support and Guidance.

Cover Teen Grief Relief
             Available at

This is such a serious subject and parents need to know how to assess their teens' suicide risk. Let's give Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley our DEEPEST THANKS for their help.

 Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley

Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley


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With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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