Suicide Prevention: Signs and Safety Planning

View spanish version, share, or print this article.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds. Parents can help protect their children by being aware of risk factors and warning signs and talking with their child. Here is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about suicide, including how to prevent suicide and what to do in a crisis.

An Important Conversation

The best way to find out whether a child or an adolescent is thinking of suicide is to ask. However, this can be a difficult topic. Your child's doctor may be able to suggest ways to start the conversation.

Signs That Your Child or Adolescent May Be Thinking About Suicide

If your child or teen feels depressed, you should watch for signs that they are considering suicide, including

Children and adolescents who feel depressed, express suicidal thoughts, and are also using alcohol or other substances are more likely to die by suicide. Be sure to ask your teen about alcohol use and discuss with the doctor whether you suspect that your child or adolescent is using alcohol.

Safety Planning

If your child is feeling depressed and having suicidal thoughts, help your child create a safety plan. This plan includes the following information:

You can ask your child or teen's doctor for a safety plan you can fill out.

What to Do in a Crisis

It is important to keep supportive and nonjudgmental lines of communication open with your child, especially if they are at increased risk for suicide. Your child's doctor can connect your family with mental health professionals if your child is having thoughts of suicide. In a crisis situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line, by texting HOME to 741741, to speak with a trained counselor. Call 911 if self-harm is occurring or is about to occur.


American Academy of Pediatrics www.aap.org and www.HealthyChildren.org


Adapted from the patient education brochure, Suicide Prevention: What Parents Need to Know.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

In all aspects of its publishing program (writing, review, and production), the AAP is committed to promoting principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.