Riding The Roller Coaster Of Emotions As A Parent Of A Suicidal Teen
When you have a suicidal teen, it is difficult to focus on anything else. your thoughts are constantly drawn to their well-being. The level of stress introduced to your life is impossible to describe. Many parents report inability to eat, sleep, and even function in their jobs or daily activities when they are facing the trial of a suicidal teen. It’s a situation you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, yet here you are facing it yourself.
All the focus is on your teen, and it is important to be carefully watching and meeting their needs. But it is also important to be aware of your own emotional state as you face the challenges to come.
Most parents go through the initial revelation with some degree of resistance. “Not my child.” “Surely he isn’t REALLY suicidal.” “This can’t be happening.” It’s a normal stage, but it is also important to keep your own denial and reservations at bay, or at least compassionate.
Once the initial shock has worn off, many parents find themselves grasping at straws to place blame or solve the problem. They may rush to blame certain friends, influences, drugs, school, or bullying. Parents feel that if they quickly resolve whatever caused suicidal thoughts they can avoid tragedy and move forward. While this is important and admirable, it’s equally as important to recognize that sometimes depression isn’t black and white, and there are no quick fixes.
It is not uncommon for the parents of a depressed and suicidal teen to experience intense depression themselves. You may feel that this is all your fault, or that you’re going to lose your baby. It is critical that parents recognize symptoms of depression in themselves and get any help that they may need, so they can continue to help their suicidal teen.
Many parents experience anger while dealing with a suicidal teen. They may feel angry at themselves or a spouse for contributing to the teen’s issues. They may feel anger at friends, bullies, or other influences in the teen’s life. And often parents actually feel anger toward their teen, usually born of confusion or frustration that the teen does not seem to understand the far-reaching effects of their behavior or potential suicide. It is absolutely vital that parents control their anger and find viable outlets for their frustration that will not affect their suicidal teen.
Throughout the entire process parents report anxiety and insomnia. They worry that if they say or do something wrong it may cause their teen to take their life. They live in a constant state of fear and anxiety that they’re missing something or should be doing something more. Managing this anxiety and insomnia with positive self-care and even medication can be a game-changer for both parents and their teen child.
Parenting a suicidal teen is a challenge unlike any other, and it’s usually a challenge that will persist over a long period of time. Dealing with the emotions it may cause is difficult, but managing them in a healthy way can make all the difference for you and your teen. If you believe that despite your best efforts your teen is still venturing further down the path of depression and suicidal thoughts – it may be time to look for professional residential treatment programs. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your teen.