Ask about suicide

teenwcounselorAsking teens about suicide.

It’ s something many adults fear. Yet new research has shown that having the courage to ask high- school students about suicide can be beneficial.

Here Columbia University researcher and mother of three sons Madelyn Gould, PhD, weighs in on saying the word “suicide” to teenagers:

“Many adults—including school administrators—fear that asking teens about thoughts of suicide may put the idea of self-harm in their minds and potentially spur them to act on these thoughts.”

“Our research showed that asking high-school students about suicide clearly didn’t induce stress, but can relieve somebody in distress.”

“I believe that this unfounded fear of asking about suicide is an astounding impediment to suicide-prevention programs.”

“Research shows youngsters at most serious risk for depression and suicidal ideation are the ones with the most distressing attitudes toward help-seeking. They really feel they can handle this on their own. They keep issues and feelings to themselves, and can think that alcohol or drugs are a good way to help themselves. They have this attitude of self-efficacy when they are not in a position to handle it on their own. … They may use the Internet, may go to chat rooms—but these can reinforce harmful attitudes about help-seeking behaviors.”


About Dr. Gould:

She’s a mother of three boys and a researcher who has studied youth suicide for more than 20 years. Does Dr. Madelyn Gould talk to her sons about thoughts of suicide and self-harm? You bet. Read her groundbreaking research, published in 2005 in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association, available online at PubM ed * Evaluating Iatrogenic Risk of Youth Suicide Screening Programs: A Randomized Controlled Trial . Gould MS, et al., Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293: 1635-1643.

, , , , , , , , , ,