I'm the first to admit that teenage relationships can be some of the most intense relationships ever! But teens are also in danger of reacting to the drama of a tumultuous relationship or the ending of a relationship by resorting to life-altering decisions. Sadly, one of those reactions can involve suicide attempts. If your family or a family you know has dealt with this issue, please keep reading. There is hope.

Teens and Suicide

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third-highest cause of death among 15-24 year olds. That is frightening. If you're the parent of a teenager, you know the family, school, and peer stress your teen is under. Add in the hormonal changes that often stand a teen's emotional balance on its head, and you have a recipe for disaster. While a complete discussion of teen suicide is beyond the scope of this article, lets talk about how to help your teen if his/her current or former girlfriend/boyfriend attempts suicide.

Teens experience emotions intensely, regardless of their personality type or coping skills. The end of a teenage relationship is traumatic even if it was the best handled breakup ever, and both suffer incredibly. If your son or daughter is being blamed for a current or former girlfriend/boyfriend's suicide attempt, take a deep breath. Your teen is suffering, even if they tell you they understand that its not their fault. Even if your voice is reassuring your teen that they could not have prevented the suicide attempt, remember that your teen may experience other voices more loudly. Especially if those voices come from the family and friends of the person who attempted suicide.

How to help your teen when a friend tries to kill themselves.

It doesn't matter if the suicide attempt was a cry for help or meant to be successful; the emotional backlash of a suicide attempt is real and long-lasting.

You may feel:


Resist your immediate impulse to jump in and try to "fix" the situation for your teen. Instead, sit down and talk with him. Respect his boundaries regarding your involvement. Some teens want to discuss all the details with their parents, some don't. Watch your intensity - your expression of outrage may be taken by your teen as anger against them. Be careful not to assign blame - it simply does not matter at this point if you think your teen could have done something differently that could have resulted in a different outcome. Those who try to commit suicide at any age will take any excuse, and those who love them struggle most with feeling responsible. What matters is that you can be a place of peace for your child.

Your teen may feel:


Remember that this is someone your teen was friends with or was in a relationship with. If your teen made a "good decision" to end a relationship or the relationship ended with high drama, that does not mean that they have completely gotten over all feelings of love or protection for the former relationship. Teen love is very real. Honor your teen's need to express their emotions, or their inability to do so. Honor their need to check in with the person who attempted suicide. Listen, a lot. Support their need to be protected from the other person's family or friends if they are blaming your teen. Give your teen information and ask questions, but mostly LISTEN. Pay just as much attention to what they don't say as to what they are able to express.

Finally, make very sure that you're not projecting your own emotional 'stuff' onto your teen. Find someone besides your teen to talk with about your own emotional response to the situation. You cannot guess what your teen is feeling. It does not matter if it makes sense to you, is what you imagine you might feel in a similar situation, or seems logical, even if you experienced a similar situation when you were a teenager. It just IS. Be ready to intervene if your teen asks for your intervention, but not before. And honor the support your teen finds apart from you that works for him or her.

When to move forward after a teen suicide attempt.

Every person, every teenager and parent, will handle a suicide attempt of a friend in their own unique way. Remember that no matter what, there is hope for healing. Walking through this incredibly painful scenario can be a wonderful learning experience. As a parent, one of the toughest things to remember is that you can't fix everything! Often the greatest gift you can give you teen is to be available, to be non-judgmental, and to be quiet.

Author's Bio: 

Ronae Jull writes from Washington State, where she is pursuing a graduate degree. With over 20 years experience coaching families, she remains ridiculously optimistic about teens, and passionate about transformational change. You can read more by Ronae Jull, the HOPE Coach, on her website RonaeJull.com.

"No matter how discouraged you're feeling right now about the challenges with your teenager, there is always HOPE."