Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Parents
Oakland County, MichiganHealthInformationYouth Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Parents

Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Parents


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Why do I need to watch for suicide?

  • ​Suicide is the third leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 in the U.S.
  • For each suicide death, family and close friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.
  • If you are concerned, don't wait to talk to your child.
  • Knowing the risk factors and warning signs helps you help your child with concerns about himself or another student.
  • Asking directly about suicide tells your child it's ok to talk about it with you.
  • Take all suicidal thoughts, threats and behaviors seriously.
  • Most suicidal people want to end severe emotional pain.
  • Emotional pain makes it hard to think clearly, consider options or remember reasons for living.

​​Risk factors

​Prior suicide attempt

  • ​​This is the strongest predictor of future attempts.

Mental illness

  • ​​1 in 5 teens will have depression at some point.
  • Many teens with depression are undiagnosed.
  • Childhood depression often continues into adulthood, especially if left untreated

Interpersonal conflict

  • ​​Bullying: In-person or cyberbullying
  • Trauma: Examples includes injury, assault, legal trouble, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  • Relationship breakups: Impulsivity combined with a personal inability to think through consequences before acting can increase the risk for suicide following a breakup.
  • Sexting: Tell your children to never take images they don't want classmates, family or future employers to see. Forwarding a sexual picture of a minor is a crime.
  • Recent loss: Examples include moving, changing schools, divorce, or death of a loved one.
  • Questioning sexual orientation

​Warning signs

​Call 911 if:

  • ​​A suicide attempt has been made
  • A weapon is present
  • The person is out of control

Take immediate action and call 800-231-1127 (Common Ground) if someone:

  • ​​Makes a serious threat to kill himself or herself such as:
    • ​"I wish I were dead."
    • "If ...... doesn't happen, I'll kill myself."
    • "What's the point of living?"
  • ​Looks for a way to carry out a suicide plan
  • Talks about death or suicide in text messages, on social media sites or in poems/music
  • Gives away possessions

​Call 800-231-1127 if someone exhibits uncharacteristic behavior:

  • ​​Hopelessness
  • Rage, anger or seeking revenge
  • Reckless or risky behavior
  • Expressions of feeling trapped, like there's no way out
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Anxiety, agitation or sleep irregularity
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Discussions of no reason for living or no sense of purpose
  • Depression


​What you can do right now:

  • ​​Know suicide risk factors and warning signs.
  • Share this website with your child.
  • Have a conversation about what your child should do if he is concerned about himself or a friend,
  • Promote skills in problem-solving and conflict resolution.
  • Maintain a supportive and involved relationship with your child.
  • Encourage participation in sports, activities at school/place of worship or volunteering.
  • Help your teen develop strong communication skills.
  • Get medical care for depression and substance use.
  • Don't leave a depressed or suicidal teen home alone.
  • Most suicides occur in the early afternoon/evening in the teen's home.

​Remove these items or secure in your home:

Prescription and over-the-counter medications

  • Keep medications, including vitamins with iron, where your kids or their friends cannot access.
  • Don't keep lethal doses of medication on hand. A pharmacist can advise you on safe quantities.
  • Safely discard unused medications. Visit the Oakland County Sheriff website for drop-off locations.
Alcohol and drugs
  • Talk to your kids about substance use as a major risk factor for suicide.
  • If your teen has a pattern of substance use, seek mental health care. Substance use could be an attempt to self-medicate a mental illness.
  • Substance use makes youth more likely to choose lethal means, such as guns. Remove firearms from your home.
  • ​Lock up potentially harmful common household products, including household cleaners, products containing alcohol (such as mouthwash, hand sanitizer, etc.), and cosmetics (such as nail polish remover, perfume, etc.).
  • Remove firearms from your home. More than half of all suicide deaths result from a gunshot wound.

​Talking to your kids

How to start a conversation after a relationship breakup:

  • ​​What did you notice about yourself in the relationship?
  • What is positive? What would you like to change?
  • Were there patterns or issues that brought you into this relationship or caused it to end?
  • What are your priorities and preferences in life?
  • Who are you on your own and how do you want to live your life?

​How to start a conversation about suicide:

  • ​​"I have been feeling concerned about you lately."
  • "Lately, I've noticed some differences in you. How are you doing?"
  • "What happened? It might help to talk about it."

Questions you can ask:

  • ​​"When did you begin feeling like this?"
  • "Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?"
  • "How can I support you right now?"
  • "Could you tell me more about that?"

​What to say that can help:

  • ​​"You are not alone – I'm here for you."
  • "I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I love you and want to help."
  • "I think you feel there is no way out. Let's talk about some options."


  • ​Common Ground
    • Resource & Crisis Helpline 800-231-1127 (24-hour)
    • Text 248-809-5550
    • Crisis chat
  • ​​Community Network Services
    • 248-745-4900
  • Easter Seals Michigan
    • ​800-341-2003
  • Oakland County Health Division Office of Substance Abuse Services
    • ​248-858-0001
  • Oakland County Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force
  • ​​​Oakland Family Services
    • ​​248-858-7766
  • ​Training and Treatment Innovations
    • 248-969-9932

Other useful websites:

  • If your home suicide proof?
  • ​How prevalent are mental health issues?
    • ​
  • Inspiration for teens
  • Suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth

 Printable Brochure

 Myths and Facts

​​Myth: A youth threatening suicide is not serious about it.
Fact: Youth who talk about suicide are serious risks. It's better to overestimate the risk of suicide and intervene than to ignore or minimize behaviors.

Myth: Suicide cannot be prevented because a suicidal youth will find a way to do it.
Fact: The keys to prevention are recognizing the warning signs and knowing what to do. Most suicidal youth do not want to die, they just want their pain to end.

Myth: Talking about suicide will cause youth to attempt.
Fact: Talk about suicide reduces the risk. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Open talk and concern are a source of relief and key for prevention.