Enlist Parental Cooperation

  1. Invite the parents’ perspective. State what you have noticed in their child’s behavior (rather than the results of your assessment) and ask how that fits with what they have observed.
  2. Advise parents to remove lethal means from the home while the child is possibly suicidal, just as you would advise taking car keys from a youth who had been drinking. Document the fact that you had this conversation in your notes. Consider having the parent sign a form acknowledging the conversation.
  3. Comment on how scary this behavior is and how it complicates the life of everyone who cares about this young person.
  4. Acknowledge the parent’s emotional state, including anger, if present.
  5. Ask, "What it would take to help you understand the seriousness of the situation?" (Develop a form for them to sign that outlines that you have discussed suicide as an issue for their child and steps to be taken.)
  6. Acknowledge that no one can do this alone - appreciate their presence.
  7. Listen for myths of suicide that may be blocking the parent from taking action.
  8. Explore reluctance to accept a mental health referral, address those issues, explain what to expect.
  9. Work with parents to explore how and where their child got this idea in ways that open up communication and allow for honest dialogue.