Skip to main content
Profesional School Counselor
Contact Lena Aragon  Lena Aragon (505) 890-0343 10th-12th grade students/Alpha A-GOL
Contact Dawn C'de Baca  Dawn C'de Baca (505) 890-0343 ex: 37021 9th grade students/Alpha A-K
Contact Ruben Garcia  Ruben Garcia (505) 890-0343 ex: 37080 9th Grade Counselor Alpha L-Z

Suicide Prevention

What Parents Should Know

Parents would like to believe that suicide is not relevant to them or their family or friends. Unfortunately, it’s very relevant for all of us. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for youths aged fifteen to nineteen, and the second-leading cause of death for college aged students. Even more disturbing are national surveys that tell us that in any given year, 8.5 percent acknowledge actually making an attempt. The unfortunate truth is that suicide can happen to any kid in any family at any time!

So how do you deal with this reality?

  • Timing is everything! Pick a time when you have the best chance of getting your child’s attention. Sometimes a car ride, for example, assures you of a captive, attentive audience. Or a suicide that has received media attention can provide the perfect opportunity to bring up the topic.
  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time and rehearse a script if necessary. It always helps to have a reference point: “I was reading in the paper that youth suicide has been increasing . . .” or “I saw that your school is having a program for the teachers on suicide prevention.”
  • Be honest. If this is a hard subject for you to talk about, admit it! (“You know, I never thought this was something I’d be talking with you about, but I think it’s really important.”) By acknowledging your discomfort, you give your child permission to acknowledge his or her discomfort, too.
  • Ask for your child’s response. Be direct! (“What do you think about suicide? Is it something that any of your friends talk about?” or “The statistics make suicide sound pretty common. Have you ever thought about it? What about your friends?”)
  • Listen to what your child has to say. You’ve asked the questions, so simply consider your child’s answers. If you hear something that worries you, be honest about that, too. (“What you’re telling me has really gotten my attention and I want to ask you some more questions about it so I can understand it better, okay?”)
  • Don’t overreact. (“I can’t believe you would ever consider such a thing! This is the most upsetting, worst thing I’ve ever heard!”) Overreaction is pretty much guaranteed to close off any future communication on the subject.
  • Underreacting is just as unproductive. (“You can’t really mean that. You’re just being dramatic. Your life is fine.”) Parental under reaction is often a way to deal with our disbelief that we were unaware that our child could be feeling so much distress. What your child hears when you say something dismissive is “I don’t believe you—you can’t be feeling that bad!” Another conversation stopper.
  • Remember that suicide is an attempt to solve a problem that seems impossible to solve in any other way. Ask about the problem that created the suicidal thoughts. This can make it easier to bring up again in the future. (“I wanted to ask you again about that situation you were telling me about . . . .”)
  • Any thoughts or talk of suicide, even if your child puts them in the past tense (“I felt that way a while ago but don’t anymore.”), should always be revisited.

Lifelines © 2010 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved. Duplicating this page for personal use is permissible.

What Teachers Should Know

New Mexico Facts…

The following information is taken and adapted from Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2011, New Mexico Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey – 2011, and New Mexico Department of Health Annual Report - 2011

  • Statewide – 8th ranking cause of death in New Mexico
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15 – 19 in New Mexico
  • Males account for 75% of suicides in NM
  • Female account for 25% of suicides in NM
  • Only 5% of males attempt suicide and 12.3% of females attempt suicide
  • Males use more lethal means – guns, hangings, and jumping from heights 
  • New Mexico reported a 8.6% suicide attempt rate: compared to the rate of 7.8% of suicide attempts in the United State
  • …15.8% of students had seriously considered attempting suicide during the last 12 months (this is up 2.3% from 2009)
  • …12.8% of students nationwide had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during the last 12 months (this is up 1.9% from 2009)

Suicidal Risk Factors for Adolescents

  • A psychological / psychopathology disorder (major depression, dysthymic disorder, anxiety, alcohol & drug use)
  • Biological deficiency in serotonin functioning
  • Feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Previous attempts
  • History of family depression or suicide
  • Abuse
  • Lack of a support network, social isolation
  • Poor problem solving skills and coping skills

(adapted from Miller & Eckert, 2009, Youth Suicidal Behavior)

Warning Signs/Indicators for Adolescents with suicidal ideation

  • Withdrawal
  • Violent actions
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Marked change in personality or dramatic mood changes
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, decline in quality of work
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky behavior
  •  Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside
  • Verbal hints, such as:  “nothing matters”; “there’s no hope” “..going away”
  • Putting affairs in order – giving away favorite possessions and/or important belongings

 (Adapted from Facts for Families  Miller & Eckert, 2009, Youth Suicidal Behavior)


Feeling Lonely?
NM Suicide Hotline/Resources