Expert: Communication is key in preventing teen suicide

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – When it comes to suicide, teenagers are especially vulnerable, according to the Samaritans of Rhode Island.

Executive Director Denise Panichas says that discussing suicide can have a negative stigma, which means it’s important for teens to have a trusted adult to turn to in times of need.

“Teens are considered a more vulnerable group,” Panichas said. “We do know that suicide can have a contagious influence when it relates to teens, so we want people to pay attention to what teens are saying.”

According to Panichas, there are three significant markers that can indicate someone may be suicidal. “They are hopeless, they believe no one cares if they live or die, and in the end they think they’re doing everyone a favor,” she explained.

Panichas said if someone is actively expressing thoughts of suicide it is important to determine if there is any immediate danger. If there is, Panichas said it’s important to dial 911.

If there is no immediate danger, Panichas recommends listening and talking to the person without being judgmental. In addition, she said it’s important for the teen to understand the options available and to seek professional health.

“The first thing that people have to get used to,” she said, “is that it’s OK to say ‘I care about you. I love you.'”

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