Suicide and self-harm: Helping your child understand difficult emotions

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​​​Find out how to reduce the risk of suicide and self-harm by helping your child cope with difficult emotions.

Key points

  • It is important to talk to your child about how they feel about everyday ups and downs, even if they do not seem stressful to you, so that they are better prepared to deal with more severe distress.
  • Be aware of how your child expresses their emotions. Younger children may change their behaviour or play routine. Older children might bottle things up or 'act out' when really they are sad or worried.
  • When talking to your child, stay calm, remind them that all emotions are valid, ask direct questions about any thoughts of suicide or self-harm and offer help.
  • Talk to your child's doctor or another mental health professional if your child has ongoing difficulties with their emotions or you learn that your child's schoolwork or friendships are suffering.
Last updated: February 10th 2016