How should I talk to my kid about suicide?

Welcome to Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage and family therapist
specializing in helping kids, teens and families live happier lives. Let's jump right into
today's parent submitted question. Recently, I heard through one of my mom friends that someone
at my son's high school died by suicide a couple weeks after summer break started. I don't think
my son knows the person, but I have a feeling he will find out about it sooner or later. answer.
He will. I want to talk to him about it, but I'm really uncomfortable. I don't want to give him
any ideas either. How should I approach this? Thank you for your question. This is a really important
topic. Before we jump into the answer, I just want to remind you that if you or someone you love
could use the support of a therapist specializing in families, kids, and teens, please contact
us at Teen Therapy Center. Our contact info is in the caption below. We also have a nonprofit
called Child and Teen Counseling, which is a

training site for therapists who are in the grad school program. We have lower fees. We have
therapists for all budgets. Anyways, let's jump in today's question. First, you want to be
proactive. You want to talk to him directly about this. Don't worry about planting the idea.
You're not going to do that. If he has the idea, you're not going to make it seem more palatable.
If he doesn't have the idea, it's not going to make it happen. For example, let's say you sit him
down at the kitchen table or the living room couch and you make sure he's already eaten so he's
not hungry. It's not when he just woke up. You scheduled it so he's not tearing away from a video
game. He's already upset about it. You find that sweet spot where you can talk to him. Say, hey,
I've got some bad news. It turns out that I found out from one of my friends that so -and -so died
by suicide recently. one of your classmates and he may jump right in the conversation if he does
great handle it with respect and curiosity

and patience and understanding more likely they're just gonna go uh -huh you say did you know
him how are you feeling i don't know no and that's okay too don't try to force him to feel anything
or say anything just be there and be patient and you can explain to him you know I feel so bad for
that family, and it would completely break my heart if I was in their shoes. So I want to ask you,
and I just want to be respectful about this, but, you know, do you ever think about killing yourself
or harming yourself? And if he says no, you could probably take him at his word. But if there's
this long pause, or you just get the, I don't know, maybe you want to explore that a little more.
And if he doesn't want to talk to you, Maybe there's a trusted family member or a religious leader
or maybe a therapist who specializes in teens who he could talk to about this. You want to be proactive
about this because suicide usually happens in secret. It usually takes people by surprise.
I mean there are exceptions

obviously but oftentimes it's by surprise and because that kid felt so alone and misunderstood
and no one understood and partly because he didn't tell anyone and that may be that that he didn't
feel he could feel safe with someone or whatever, but reach out to him. Now he's resistant to
therapy. If you can get him in the door, usually the therapist can take care of the rest, you know,
because we're trained on working through that resistance and building that trust and building
that connection. But suicide can be very impulsive thing. So you want to make sure you're on
top of this and make sure that whatever issues you have about death, if it's really anxiety filled
topic for you, make sure you're dealing with it as well in your own therapy, your own journaling
or however it is you come to terms with things. You can also talk about, hey, you know, I understand
how it feels because most people have considered suicide. Most people haven't carried out
the act or attempted. Most people have

thought about, well, why am I here? Why should I keep going? That's a normal thought that many
people have. And having that conversation with yourself or with a trusted adult is a really
good conversation to have because you find that there's a of things to live for. So I think these
are really good conversations to have. Anyways, that's our question for today. Again, my name
is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and the non -profit 501c3 organization, Child and
Teen Counseling. Thank you for submitting your question. If you'd like me to answer your question
here on Tips on Teens, email us at tipsonteend@teentherapycenter .com or direct message
us right here on social media. We love your questions. I look forward to seeing you next week.
Ken Toussaint. Oh, by the way, happy 4th of July, everyone! Go have a hot dog! Woo!


Most people have thought about suicide at some point in their lives. As adults, it’s very alarming to consider suicide in relation to our kids. However, it’s natural to occasionally question, “Why should I keep going?” or “Why am I here?” Having a conversation with your teen about suicide is crucial. When teens discuss these thoughts with a trusted adult, they often realize there are many positive reasons to keep living.

It’s essential to be proactive when talking to your child about suicide because most suicides happen in secrecy and often take families by surprise. Suicide is usually an impulsive act that occurs in isolation, so by being proactive, parents have a better chance of breaking this cycle.


If you’re worried that discussing suicide with your child will “plant the idea,” don’t be. Talking about suicide won’t make it more appealing to your child—they are already aware of it. You may hope for a specific reaction from your child during this conversation, but it’s important not to force any particular response. Your child will hear you if you speak calmly and empathetically, so it’s crucial to be in a good mental space when having this talk.

If you need help finding the right words, don’t worry, we have provided some in this Tips on Teens.

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.