***If your loved one is a danger to themselves or others, call 911 – Ask for a Crisis Intervention Team Trained Officer

If you are a young person who is struggling or has a friend who is talking about hurting themselves or committing suicide, please seek the help of a trusted adult immediately. It could be your parent, your friend’s parent, a coach, a teacher, a school counselor, the school nurse, a resource officer, ANYONE who is in the position to be sure that you or your friend are SAFE and GET THE HELP THEY NEED TO STAY SAFE!!  (See resources below)

Suicide Hotline:

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness:
1-800-950-6264 (or text 62640) – 10am to 10pm ET

Say It Out Loud – www.siol.nami.org – “A free online game created by young people for young people. Check out the conversation prompts about life, relationships, and mental health.”

Georgia Crisis & Access Line:
1-800-715-4255 | mygcal.com

Peer to Peer: 

(Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network) 24/7/365                                                                              

888-945-1414 | www.peer2peer.center (online chat)

SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS:   *(Credit: NAMI)                                                                                                                   

Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself. Writing notes/poems about death. Looking for ways to kill oneself such as searching online or buying a gun or large amounts of OTC medication. Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain. Talking about being a burden to others. Increase use of drugs/alcohol. Deterioration in performance and daily life roles. Acting reckless or agitated. Behaving recklessly. Sleeping too much or too little. Withdrawing, isolating, change in relationship. Showing rage or speaking about seeking revenge. Extreme mood swings or sudden change in personality. Signs of depression (neglect of appearance, self-mutilation, crying, giving away possessions, saying good-bye to people.)

Is Someone At Risk For Suicide? R.E.A.C.T.: *(Credit: NAMI)        

Recognize the signs of emotional struggling.                                                                                                                                      

Express concern, offer support, listen nonjudgmentally. 

Ask privately, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” If Yes: Ask how, when, what?   

Care enough to keep them safe. Don’t leave them alone. Don’t use guilt. Calmly listen. Don’t agree to keep it secret.       

Text or call for extra support – #988. 911.                                                


Responding to Someone in Mental Health Crisis *(Credit: NAMI)   

Remember to: Slow down. Stay calm and give firm, clear instructions. Assess situation for safety. Maintain adequate space. Respond to apparent feelings. Respond to delusions and hallucinations by talking about the person’s feelings rather than what they are saying. Be helpful, encouraging, supportive. Listen. 

AVOID: Reinforcing behavior related to the person’s illness. Staring at the person. Confusing the person. Giving multiple choices. Whispering, yelling, ridiculing, deceiving, or touching. Taking control if you don’t have to. Being dishonest as it will cause fear and suspicion.

Parent to Parent: Brief description of Levels of Care and Tips from other parents. I highly recommend listening to this Podcast (also found on media page) for additional help. My Son Almost Took His Own Life: The Phone Call That Changed Everything | Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (choa.org)

***(The following information is based on “Lived Experiences” and observations and in no way is it meant to replace a trained and licensed Mental Health professional! Please seek professional care for help.)

Hospital (ER & ICU)
Medical stabilization following suicide attempt, self-inflicted harm, etc.
Hospitals are mandated to transfer patients to an acute facility, if a suicide attempt was
reported or planned.

Acute Facility
24/7 Mental health stabilization, medication evaluation; however, limited treatment
intervention that will promote long-term success.
Average stay is 3-7 days.

Partial Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF)
24/7 Mental health stabilization, effective medication management (identifying the best
medication regimen for the client, instead of the generic blanket meds the acute facility will
likely prescribe). Intensive treatment intervention (individual, family, group therapy, recreation
therapy, art therapy, horticulture therapy, etc.), and adequate discharge process (identifies
next steps, how much therapy is required to determine long term success). Average stay is 2
weeks to 3 months, depending on insurance coverage and if the client is meeting medical
necessity. *Most clients stay 4-8 weeks.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Same as PRTF without residing at the facility.
Monday-Friday all day (about 8 hours/day). Typically, 4-12 weeks.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Meet a few days a week for 3-5hours a day.
Individual, family, and group therapy. Some programs may offer medication management.

**These facilities may not accept IOP patients if they have not been part of their PRTF or PHP.

Private Practice – A la carte treatment

***This Is A Rollercoaster Journey, Buckle Up!!
Your child has just been diagnosed with a Chronic Illness.
Whether it’s anxiety, depression, suicide ideation or attempt, bipolar or any other mental
illness, they CAN learn to love themselves again and learn tools to help them cope, such as
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Medication can be very helpful for many, and you can
actually request DNA testing to be matched with a medication that will work best with your
son/daughter’s unique chemistry and avoiding the need for a sometimes prolonged trial-and error period while settling on a medication regimen (GeneSight, ClarityX DNA).
You can expect that things will be up and down for MONTHS, with some good days and some
very bad and some very scary days. Do not be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath for the
first six months, I did, it was the scariest time of my life.

“Don’t Make It Weird”…talk about mental health. – Harry Miller

Unsolicited Advice From Other Parents On The Same Journey – Take what you like, leave the rest:

      • Listen, listen, listen. And, be honest.

      • Use “I” statements, NOT “You” statements. “I feel like….”, “I see…”, “I need…”

      • Do not blame yourself, mental illness is sneaky, you didn’t miss it, it knows the tricks.

      • Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”

      • Ask how they want to be supported while remembering mental illness is exhausting
        and sometimes a check-in may be as simple as a thumbs-up emoji in response to a
      • (NAMI) No nagging, yelling, or arguing. Focus on the person you know and love.
      • (NAMI) Provide reassurance often, like: “I love you and I care”, “You are not alone in this”, “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain”, “I’m always willing to listen”, “I’ll be your friend no matter what”, “this will pass, and we will get through it together”, “You are important to me”, ‘When this is over, I’ll still be here”.

        ATTORNEY and a living will before your college-aged child heads off to school. This
        gives parents permission to make medical decisions if your child is physically unable
        to do so. After age 18, you do not have a say in treatment regardless of the
        circumstances. Your child is in crisis, and you have no say, it’s a nightmare situation to
        be in. You can prevent it by having this legal document.

      • Agree on a realistic check-in plan and the results of non-compliance. “I will call/text
        you every evening at 7pm. If I don’t get a response within 1 hour, I will call (insert
        therapist/neighbor/best friend) to do an in-person check-in. If they don’t get a
        response, I will call the police for a wellness check.” Once things are more stable, this
        schedule can loosen up to every couple of days.

      • Nights are the hardest for everyone.

      • Expect to take two steps forward and one step back, regularly. It may be six to twelve
        months before you see steady improvement.

      • Do NOT try to guilt or reason with your child. “If you do this, it will hurt me.” They
        have enough guilt already and if they could reason their way out of depression, they
        would have already. They simply cannot “Snap out of it.”

      • It’s a good idea to lock up or remove from your home any drugs, alcohol, medication,
        knives, guns, or anything that could be used to harm oneself, indefinitely.

      • Seek therapy for yourself, you’re going to need it, this is very hard to manage.

      • Model healthy coping skills – Get outside, go for a walk together, talk.

      • Let your child know they are loved and supported.

      • Involve your child in some decision-making process, even if it’s just dinner options.

      • Remember, everyone’s journey is different despite many similarities that may exist.

      • Pick your battles. Resist raising your voice. Ask yourself, is this behavior harmful or
        just annoying? Handle it matter of factly.

      • Give your child space and time to handle their emotions, pause then talk calmly.

      • It’s ok not to be ok, normalize that. Things may not be turning out the way YOU had
        hoped and planned for. It’s ok to mourn that, but don’t let it consume you. Your very
        first goal is to have your child here and healthy. It may look like stopping a sport. It
        may look like taking some time off of from school (Grade or college). It may look like
        homeschooling. Get comfortable thinking outside the box and focus on your

      • Create a routine and set boundaries at home. Routines are comforting when
        everything else is out of control. Schedule wake, eat, sleep, work, school, physical
        activity, etc.

      • Meet with other parents in your situation. There is great comfort in knowing you are
        not the only one struggling with constant fear and worry about your most precious
        gift, your baby. Once you get through your crisis, reach out and use what you have
        learned to help the next parent. We must help one another through this, it’s the only

      • This affects the ENTIRE FAMILY, not just the individual.

      • If you don’t know what to say or do in the moment, respond with “I hear you”, or
        “What can I do for you?”

      • For keeping a healthy perspective, a phrase worth repeating to yourself, “You can’t
        want this more than they want it.” – They have to do the hard work themselves.

      • Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, asking will not make your child commit suicide. On the contrary, NOT saying something, even just acknowledging that you see them struggling and
        asking the difficult questions could very well save their life.


      • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) = www2.ed.gov

      • FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.
        These rights transfer to the child when they turn 18. When your child is in crisis, they
        may not be able to make sound decisions regarding their education and the parent
        may need to intervene to salvage what’s left. This could mean taking an incomplete,
        dropping a course, communicating with professors, etc. Without FERPA, you cannot
        assist your child.

      • 504 Plans = *HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Like an IEP in grade school, a 504 Plan helps
        students with disabilities access the same education as their classmates. A child has
        the right to a 504 plan if: They have any disability, or are regarded as having a
        disability (depression, anxiety, mental illness qualify as a disability if you have a
        professional diagnosis), AND the disability interferes with their ability to learn in a
        general education classroom. If your child is having a difficult day/week,
        arrangements for assignments and/or tests to be turned in or taken at a later date
        can be made and agreed upon by the professor and student. Your student may
        never need this, but it is an excellent resource to have. You never know when you
        may need it and it doesn’t hurt at all to have it on file.

      • FIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILD!! – Insurance may play the deny game, push
        back! As a parent noted, if there is not a facility within a certain radius of your home,
        the company can make an “out-of-network” agreement with a facility to get your
        child the care they need. This is NOT a time to be nice and passive, you must fight for care, sad but true.

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