What do I do if my child is thinking about suicide?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

The Bible talks a lot about violence, and specifically murder. However, there are not explicit commands in Scripture about suicide. That said, suicide is still murder because it is the murder of one's own life. The Bible clearly says in Exodus 20:13 "do not murder"(HCSB). The reality is that the Bible describes people that committed suicide (Abimelech, Judas, Saul and his armor-bearer), but most of these people that committed suicide were ungodly people. Life is something that God has created, something that God has given each and every one of us. Job 1:21 says, "...the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away…"(HCSB). We even seen great men of God who wish that they could die! Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 2:17 "So I hated life, because the work done that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (NIV). The feelings of suicide are not new to human history, and even some of the greatest people in the Bible have felt this way. The reality is that that normal people struggle with suicidal thoughts. Jesus is the hope that can pull us out of darkness. Hearts and minds can be transformed through God's word, and so we must continually point back to Jesus.

Things to think about:

Suicide is a very serious issue. Here are some warning signs to look for in your child:

  • Making statements such as "I want to kill myself", "I wish I were dead", "Why I am even alive?".
  • Being preoccupied with death, violence, or suicide
  • Mood swings and bouts of depression
  • Withdrawing from social situations and remaining isolated
  • Doing abnormally risky things (such as heavy drinking or drug use)

If you begin to see signs like these or similar it is important to start dialoguing with your child immediately. Here are some ways in which you can begin the conversation because the reality is that starting the conversation can often be the hardest part. Even though it is a very serious issue, it is important not to panic, get angry, assume things, or belittle your child. This is a time in which you need to have a very direct, very heartfelt conversation, and help to show your student that everyone has had bad thoughts and even thoughts about death. Here are some questions you need to ask your child from Mayo Health Clinic Info on Suicide:

  • What made you start feeling this way?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself in any way?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • If you are thinking about suicide, how do you plan to do it? Do you have the resources/means to do it?
  • If you are thinking about suicide, when do you plan to do it?

The reason these types of questions are asked is because it helps you determine the severity of the problem. Before things get serious, and even during this hard time, continue to pray for your student. Invite others to pray for your student and family, without having to give out personal details. Also, contact a pastor and a mental health professional for advice. Suicidal thoughts can be hard to work through, so you as a parent need as much support as you can get.

What do I do now?

If you have determined that your child is indeed struggling with suicidal thoughts here are some steps you need to take:

  • Do not leave your student alone
  • Contact 911 or take your student immediately to the hospital
  • Tell other family members, prayer partners, church friends, or anyone else that can support and pray for your child and the family

If a child does want to commit suicide, seek help immediately. Do not wait to solve the problem on your own. Seek out professional help.

Want to go deeper?

Here are a few great resources to help:

Teens and Suicide - Article from Focus on the Family about teens and suicide.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Website and phone contact for those thinking about suicide. Open 24/7

Celebrate Recovery - Christian self-help group that is throughout the nation.

Christian Counseling Search - Focus On the Family's search tool to find a local Christian counselor.