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September 05, 2013 at 10:00 AM EDT
What keeps young people from talking about suicide? Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors are available for media interviews in time for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10

TORONTO, Sept. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - "My life seems so pointless I don't know what to do anymore, I've been thinking about suicide again. I feel extremely guilty for feeling like this because i know there are a lot of people out there that have it so much worse than me. I feel like i should just suck it up and stop feeling like this but its hard. I never talk about the way I'm feeling with anyone pretty much ever and i don't show emotions most of the time. i just feel i need to talk to someone about how I'm feeling right now because i feel like I'm getting worse and worse."

- young person posting on kidshelpphone.ca

If a young person in your life was feeling suicidal, would you know the warning signs?

Tuesday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and Kids Help Phone wants to help parents and guardians everywhere to gain a better understanding of youth suicide and open up the lines of communication at home.

"It's not always easy to recognize suicidal thoughts in others," says Cheryl-Lynn, a professional counsellor at Kids Help Phone. "There are assumptions out there that the warning signs are obvious, or that suicide only affects people with pronounced mental health disorders or addictions. But the reality is that suicide can affect anyone, including youth, and the signs are not always easy to see."

Six per cent of the calls and online contacts that Kids Help Phone receives from young people relate to suicide. In Canada, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among 15 to 24 year olds, second only to accidents.

"We know that young people often confide in each other before turning to anyone else," Cheryl-Lynn says, "but kids can't be expected to know what to do if a friend is suicidal. That's why it's important that they have other supports they can turn to, like parents, teachers, guidance counsellors, and Kids Help Phone."

Though suicidal thinking in others is not always obvious, there are some warning signs that may indicate a child is at risk.

What can parents and guardians do?

Talking to a young person about suicide can be difficult. Here are some tips from Kids Help Phone to help start the conversation at home.

  • Do not let fear or discomfort stop you from opening up the conversation. As a starting point, you might want to visit kidshelpphone.ca with your child and look at the expert-vetted information about suicide available there.
  • Whether your child is sharing their own suicidal thoughts, or is expressing worry about a friend, listen to them. Stay supportive by letting your child do the talking, and avoid interrupting or expressing disappointment. Keep in mind that young people are also very sensitive to body language and facial expressions.
  • If you suspect a young person in your life is in extreme emotional distress or dealing with thoughts of suicide, it is really important to speak to them directly and immediately about it. It's not an easy conversation to have, but can help your child feel less alone and make it easier for them to know about the support and assistance available and to accept support and assistance. If you think your child might be in immediate danger, take them to Emergency right away or call 911.
  • Discovering and hearing that a friend is suicidal is very stressful for a young person. Remind the young person in your life that they are doing the right thing in seeking help for their friend, and encourage them to get support for themselves as well - calling Kids Help Phone is a great way to do so.  Let them decompress afterwards to talk about what they've gone through and how they feel about it.
  • Thank a young person for sharing their feelings with you, whether it be about themselves or a friend.  Let them know that it takes a lot of courage to talk about suicidal thoughts or feelings and that you will be there for them no matter what.
  • Seek out information about suicide, including the myths and realities.  Fear and stigma can be barriers at times to finding out more about suicide but accurate knowledge about how to help is very important.
  • Encourage the young person in your life to download Kids Help Phone's free Always There mobile app, which connects users to Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors, expert-vetted Info Booth, and more at the touch of a button. This free app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

For a parent, knowing that a child is dealing with thoughts of suicide can be incredibly difficult. Parents often feel as if they may be judged or that they are at fault when their kids are suffering.

Kids Help Phone is here to help young people, and our professional counsellors are also available for media interviews to offer more information and tips for parents.

We also encourage parents and young people to visit Kids Help Phone's Info Booth at kidshelpphone.ca to learn more about suicide.

Suicide: fast facts

  • September 10, 2013, is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme this year is "Stigma: A Major Barrier for Suicide Prevention."
  • 6% of the contacts Kids Help Phone receives from young people relate to suicide, translating into thousands of questions from young people across Canada dealing with this difficult issue each year.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among 15 to 24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents.
  • Awareness about youth mental health and well-being is increasingly becoming a topic that is recognized as important to Canadians.
  • Canada's youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • Suicide rates among Aboriginal youth in Canada are estimated to be five to six times higher than among non-Aboriginal youth.

Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors are available for interviews in time for World Suicide Prevention Day.

Please contact Elizabeth-Alice Worth to schedule an interview:

liz.worth@kidshelpphone.ca

416-581-8955

1-800-268-3062 ext. 8955

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is a Canadian and world leader, known for our expertise in providing vital, innovative, and professional counselling services to children and youth. Since 1989 we have offered children, teens and young adults in Canada a critical lifeline of hope and support, through our free, anonymous and confidential service. Our professional counsellors support the mental health and well-being of young people ages five to 20, in urban, rural, and remote communities, by providing one-on-one counselling, information and resources online and by phone. Our internationally recognized, award-winning websites are considered a model of child-focused interactive design, and offer online counselling forums and engaging, therapeutic games, tools and information to encourage resilience and self-care. A community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone receives no ongoing government funding or core operating support from any large funder and relies on community and corporate support to keep our essential service available. We're there for the *6.5 million young people in Canada, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English and in French.

*Source: represents the age group Kids Help Phone serves (from five to 20) according to Statistics Canada, 2013.

SOURCE Kids Help Phone

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