Suicide Prevention Hotline logoNeed immediate help?

If you have an emergency situation, CALL 911.

If you suspect someone is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit their website to do an online chat.

Call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 for LGBTQ crisis intervention.

It’s unfortunate that I need to talk about suicide prevention, but lately the news has headlined many famous cases. It’s a discussion we must have.

What research says about suicide rates.

What parents should know about suicide preventionThe truth is, suicide is on the rise in the United States. The latest report from the CDC shows that suicide rates in the USA have increased by 25% in the last 19 years. According to the CDC, for every teenager who completes a suicide, there are 10 more who have attempted it.

A study published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders found children (1-16 years of age) with high functioning autism are 28 times more likely to think about suicide than a neurotypical child. The researchers recommend that all children on the spectrum be screened for suicidal ideation. In another study in The Lancet (a psychiatry journal), 66% of adults with Asperger’s had suicidal ideation. 35% of the subjects reported having a plan or attempting suicide, which is a red flag for need for immediate help.

According do a 2017 Canadian research study, suicide rates amongst people with learning disabilities is 46% higher than neurotypical peers! They found 16.6% of women with learning challenges were more likely to have ATTEMPTED suicide compared to 3.3% of women without learning issues. For men with learning difficulties 7.7% were more likely to have attempted suicide compared to 2.1% of men without learning challenges.  The researchers found this to be true even if the person had not been exposed to traumatic experiences in life.

Samara Z. Carroll, co-author of the study, said, “When we focused only on individuals in the survey with learning disorders, we found that people who had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence had double the odds of suicide attempts.” So students with a learning problem who are exposed to trauma have SIGNIFICANT risk for suicide.

The truth is, as parents of children who are ‘different,’ we need to be more cognizant of the signs of things that lead to suicide so that we can be proactive about helping our children.

I do not share these statistic to be alarming. I share them to impress upon you the need to educate yourself about suicide prevention. It’s unfortunate that it has become a mainstream part of the adolescent experience, much like the talk of school shootings. We need to understand the signs of suicide, and what to do if we suspect our child is at risk.

Warning signs of suicide

It is important to track a child’s behavior and watch for any significant changes. According to the CDC, these are the warning signs that a person may be contemplating suicide:

  • Talking about suicide or threatening to do it
  • Actively discussing a plan or looking for a way to commit suicide
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Feeling hopeless or lack of purpose
  • Feeling trapped
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal for regular activities or social situations
  • Moodiness, unusual anger outbursts
  • Reckless behavior

If you suspect someone is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit their website to do an online chat.

If you are in Ventura County, California, call Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) mobile crisis response team at (866) 998-2243. This phone is for immediate risk, crisis calls only. They will do a suicide assessment over the phone and send out support if it seems there is an immediate risk.

If you are in Santa Barbara County, California, call SAFTY (Safe Alternatives for Treating Youth) at (888) 334-2777. This is for immediate risk, crisis calls only. They will do a suicide assessment over the phone and send out support if it seems there is an immediate risk.

How to help a child who is depressed or needs more support.

Read this article from on 10 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide.

The most important takeaways:

  1. Get your child help when the problems are small, before they reach the level of suicidal ideation.
  2. Do not brush off your child’s concerns as adolescent/teenage drama.
  3. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and take notice of changes.
  4. Take all threats of suicide seriously.
  5. Help your child talk about feelings and difficult experiences.
  6. Encourage your child to continue social interaction with family and friends.
  7. Encourage your child to exercise.
  8. Teach your child to be resilient.
  9. Provide your child with unconditional support so he or she will reach out to you when life becomes difficult.
  10. Talk to your child about suicide risks and prevention.
  11. Lock away all guns, prescription medication or any other things that might increase the risk.
  12. If you are at all concerned, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or your local crisis center.


Not for me, but for other children and their parents. This is super important information. We need to spread the word. Thanks!

Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau is a licensed professional clinical counselor and educational consultant in Ventura County, California. Her goal is to help parents of neurodivergent individuals find strategies and solutions to help their children succeed in school and in life. Bonnie is also the author of Special Ed Mom Survival Guide: How to Prevail in the Special Education Process and Find Life-long Strategies for You and Your Child.