If you know a young person who is struggling with a problem, big or small, encourage them to contact us. We’re free, anonymous, confidential, and available 24/7/365.

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Remember: Talk about suicide or suicide attempts should always be taken seriously.

The transition from childhood to adulthood can be tremendously stressful. Family, school, and social pressures are often overwhelming for young people who lack the life experience to put these challenges in context. When combined with mental health problems, such as depression, these struggles can put young people at risk for suicide.


How can I tell if a young person is suicidal?

There is no way to tell if someone is suicidal, but there are some common warning signs that might suggest a young person is at risk. Kids who are suicidal may exhibit some or all of the following behaviours (the bold items indicate a special risk):

  • They may talk about or threaten suicide.
  • They may seem preoccupied with death, dying, and suicide (for example, in a diary or drawings).
  • They may have previously attempted suicide.
  • They might express part of or a whole plan to attempt suicide, or they may describe methods of dying by suicide.
  • They might try to give away meaningful belongings.
  • Often they may seem to lose interest in friends, school, sports, or hobbies.
  • They may show signs of depression or hopelessness.
  • They may have recently lost a friend or family member — in particular a parent — to suicide.
  • They might be conflicted or ashamed about their sexual orientation.
  • They might use alcohol or drugs heavily.
  • Often they may show changes in their typical behaviour, including: hygiene, eating, sleeping, or mood.


Talking to a young person about suicide

Talking to young people about suicide can be difficult, but it will help them feel less alone and make it easier for them to accept help. Here are some tips:


  • Start gently. Mention the changes you’ve noticed in their behaviour, such as: “I’ve noticed you’re spending a lot of time alone lately; is something bothering you?”
  • Be direct. Ask a kid if he or she is considering suicide: “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?” If the answer is yes, find out if they have a plan: “How are you planning to do it?” The more detailed the plan, the higher the risk.
  • Remind them you care. People who feel suicidal are often worried that they are a burden, so it’s important to communicate to them that you love them and want to help them through this.
  • Tell them help is available and that you have hope for them. Tell them that things can get better, and that you will support them in finding help and working toward a happier future — however long it takes. You can make an appointment with your family doctor to talk about options that are available in your community. You can also pass along the Kids Help Phone number: 1-800-668-6868 so they can talk to a counsellor.


  • Judge. Let the young person do the talking and try to avoid interrupting or expressing disappointment.
  • Talk too much. Don’t try to fill all the silences in the conversation. The pauses might result in the young person opening up more.
  • Minimize the young person’s suffering by saying things like “Life isn’t fair” or “It’ll pass.”


If a young person has a plan to die by suicide 

Do not leave the young person alone. Make an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible for an assessment. If a doctor is unavailable, take the young person to the Emergency Room at your local hospital


Getting help for yourself

Knowing that a young person in your life is suicidal can be incredibly difficult. As a parent or a guardian, you might feel judged or blamed for what your child is going through, or you may feel that it is your fault. It’s not. Avoid the temptation to criticize or blame yourself. Support is crucial during this time; create a network of people you can talk to about your feelings, such as friends, family members, spiritual leaders, counsellors, or anyone else who can listen and assist. You don’t have to go through this alone.


If you know a young person who is struggling with a problem, big or small, encourage them to contact us. We’re free, anonymous, confidential, and available 24/7/365.

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