Lubbock psychologist says watch for warning signs of suicidal thoughts

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 9:49 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 9:51 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $232.2 million in grants intended for the prevention of suicide. Most will go to help local communities build what they need to manage the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and to ensure the necessary resources are available in every community.

The CDC reports that nearly 50,000 people died last year by suicide. That number reflected a 2.5% increase from the year before. Even among young people age 10 to 14, suicide is the second leading cause of death behind injury.

Dr. Natalie Scanlon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, says, “If children begin talking about it, or some may draw about it, or write notes or other things about it, those are some of the more overt signs that we should be concerned and start to ask questions.”

Other clues may be gradual and harder to see. Parents need to watch for a change in mood, behavior or academic performance or even in their eating or sleeping patterns. She says watch to see if they begin to show reckless behavior or give away their belongings or say they feel they are a burden to others.

Also, in general, any loss from the death of a loved one to a break-up in a relationship can trigger, in some children, a feeling of hopelessness or even thoughts of suicide.

Dr. Scanlon says if a child is showing any of the risk factors, one of the most important things a parent can do is start a conversation and not be afraid to use the word suicide when you ask about it.

She explains, “We actually know from a lot of data, that you won’t do any harm by asking somebody about suicide. You will open the door to honest conversation maybe about suicide or just about them struggling in general.”

If you fear for someone’s safety, 9-1-1 is always an option.

The National Suicide Hotline is 9-8-8. that’s where you will find mental health professionals standing by every hour and every day of the year to answer calls and provide resources.