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Ask a Professional: Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts

Ask a Professional: Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts

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Linda-ROPro

Ask a Professional: Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts

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So my daughter has been very low in mood since puberty hit and she was seeing a psychologist about a year ago after she admitted to me that she had thoughts of self harming. She had a few weeks of meeting with the psychologist after which she decided she felt ok again and didn't need to keep going. Today she is texting me from school saying she lays awake every night thinking about self harm and suicide. I've got her an appointment with our GP who is wonderful but it's so hard in my area to get a regular appointment with Headspace and there doesn't seem to be anything else. I guess what I'm asking is how do you all cope when it feels like love is not enough to keep my daughter from feeling the way she does?

 

Dear @JJsunny,

It is great to hear that you’ve got a GP who you trust and have arranged an appointment for your daughter - having a good GP can make such a difference. Your GP may know of additional services in your area to help get your daughter further help sooner.

It is understandable that you would be finding your daughter’s distress difficult to cope with. I am sure that your love and care are having a positive impact, but thoughts of suicide and self-harm can be complex and they can appear even when someone is surrounding by loving family. 

It’s a really encouraging sign that your daughter has told you how she is feeling. It may be helpful to ask her what kind of support would be most helpful at the moment. She might have ideas about what helps her feel better (for instance, she might want to talk things through, or she might not want to talk but spending time together might help). If she is not sure what would be helpful, then that is really common and is okay, but asking lets her know that you are listening to what she needs and wants. 

Because your daughter is experiencing thoughts of suicide, I would recommend talking to her about creating a safety plan to help keep her safe. 

She might also find this guide on self-help for self-harm helpful as a starting point, and there are some coping skills you can work on with her which can also help with her mood. Even if she begins to feel better as a result of these things, I would still recommend following-up with a psychologist, even if it takes some time to see someone. Lots of people find that their mood goes up and down over time, and part of what a psychologist can do with her is work on skills to help her longer-term.

Having a child who is experiencing thoughts of suicide is stressful, and it’s important to also look after your own wellbeing. As a first step, I generally encourage people to think about what has worked best for them in the past when they are feeling overwhelmed. This is because you probably already have some skills you’ve developed when dealing with difficult situations which could be relevant now (and you’re the person who knows the most about what works for you).

If it feels like trying some new skills would be helpful, or you’re finding it hard to identify what you might need at the moment, the coping skills document I linked to above is also relevant for parents as well as teens. If you feel overwhelmed, or and your mood is being significantly affected by what is happening with your daughter, it’s a good idea to also see your GP about your own wellbeing. 

Best wishes,

Linda

 

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families ,in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.

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JJsunny

Re: Ask a Professional: Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts

Thank you to everyone for your replies and support. My daughter is doing ok for the moment and we've been able to arrange a series of regular appointments with a local psychologist which is a great relief! We'll continue to take things day by day😊
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Lillyflower4

Re: Ask a Professional: Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts

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