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3 Things My Parents Did to Keep Me Safe When I Was Suicidal as a Teenager

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Although I have never done it, I have no doubt parenting can be hard. When you add in parenting a child who’s struggling with mental illness, well, knowing how I was some days, I don’t know how my parents did it.

There were times as a teenager when I was suicidal. My parents did a lot to try and keep me safe during that time.

What my parents did helped keep me alive, but that doesn’t mean that if another parents’ child completed suicide that makes it the parents fault or that they didn’t do enough. Sometimes a parent can do everything right and it’s not enough. 

These are the things my mom and dad did for me when I was suicidal:

1. They locked up anything I could use to harm myself. 

My mom got a small safe to put in her closet. All the medications, scissors, razors and anything else got locked in there. They put a lock on our pantry and knives were put in there. If my brothers or I wanted to cook something, we had to ask my mom to unlock it. If I had a cold and needed Tylenol, I had to ask for it  If my brothers or I wanted to shave, we asked for a razor and then gave it back right after our shower. By locking up these items, it greatly decreased my access to items that could become dangerous.

2. I was not left home alone. 

Whenever I wasn’t safe either due to suicidal ideation or psychotic symptoms, I was not left alone. My mom decreased the amount of days she worked to be home with me. When she was at work, I went to someone’s house. We were lucky to have amazing people who would let me stay with them for a few hours, sometimes multiple days a week. When my mom wasn’t at work and had to go somewhere, I had to go with her if my brother or dad weren’t home.

3. My mom checked in with me every day. 

My therapist at the time liked me to rate the severity of my symptoms using a one to 10 scale. He had my mom check in with me every day to see how I was doing. I hated being asked, so she would text me. She would send just the letters A, D and S to stand for anxiety, depression, suicidal. I would text back three numbers to match.

These were the three main actions my parents took to keep me safe when I was suicidal. They also got me the help I needed by taking me to a therapist, to see psychiatrists and when necessary, driving me down to the hospital at UCLA because it was significantly better than the one in my town.

I recently did a training centered around suicide prevention which said that suicide is the most preventable cause of death.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, I urge you to take action. There is help available. Life can become better.

Below are numbers for crisis hotlines/the text line. You don’t have to be actively suicidal to use the help lines. If you need someone to talk to or are in a mental health crisis at any time, you can use them.

Getty Images photo via Kikovic

Originally published: March 7, 2018
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