Youth suicide is a very heavy topic that has touched the lives of many. 

It creates a severe rupture within whole communities, and at times can feel too much to bear. As mental health professionals, we want to protect and prevent youth from risk of suicide. In order to do this, it starts with educating the public, debunking myths, and creating spaces where conversations around suicide can be done with care and effectiveness. 

Naturally as a parent you might have carried fears about suicide, asking yourself how can I safeguard my child? 

How do I help my depressed teenagerWhat leads to suicidal thoughts? 

What’s the difference between Non-suicidal self-injury (self-harm) and suicidality? 

How do I talk to my kid about these topics? 

Should I talk to my kid about these topics? 


Below is a brief but good entry point into learning more about youth suicide. 

Although this is not a comprehensive training for youth suicide prevention, hopefully after reading you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered to address topics within your family unit or partner with the Fort Collins community towards fuller and more effective suicide prevention. 

Vocabulary – 

  • Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

  • Otherwise known as self-harm, cutting, or parasuicide 
  • Suicidal Ideation

  • Fantasizing about harming self or being harmed
  • Thinking through ways one might attempt

**Suicidal thoughts does not always correlate to an individual completing suicide** 

Warning Signs – 

  • Severe withdrawal from friends, family, and activities 
  • Giving away personal belongings 
  • Talking or writing about death 
  • Expressing hopelessness or lack of purpose 
  • Abruptly seeking access to means 
  • Increased substance use 
  • Drastic changes in mood or temperament 

Most at Risk – 

  • Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death in children & adolescents 
  • 60 y/o+ 
  • Those who struggle with substance use 
  • LGBTQAI+ youth are more than 4 times likely to attempt suicide than their peers 

Always take statements about suicide seriously even if someone doesn’t fit this criterion, even if it’s from a young child. 

my child just told me they want to hurt themselvesMyths about Suicide 

  • If you as a child if they are contemplating suicide it will put the idea in their head 
  • People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention 
  • All suicidal youth are depressed 
  • Most suicidal youth will never ask for help 
  • The only effective intervention for suicide comes from mental health professionals 
  • Once a child thinks about suicide, they will forever think about it 

Responding to someone who discloses Suicidality:

Un-Helpful Helpful
Promising to keep it a secret  “I am so glad you felt comfortable telling me, let’s find a way together to help you” 
“You aren’t thinking about hurting yourself/anyone else right?”  “I am so sorry you are hurting; it was courageous of you to tell me” 
“You don’t mean that” “What is going on that makes you want to harm yourself?” 
“Think about how upset your friends would be” “How can I support you” 
“Your life isn’t that bad; things could be worse”  “What is going well in your life?” 
“You are being selfish”  Seek out professional help 


Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – Call 988 or online chat at

Alliance for Suicide Prevent of Larimer County –

Trevor Project –

Question, Persuade, Refer Institute: Training for Parents/Guardians

Finding a therapist and/or someone within their school to provide support is a great first preventive step