What should you do after your teen attempts suicide?

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians today, with over 300 deaths by suicide each year, which is almost double the figure of young people who are killed in car accidents. If your teenager has attempted suicide and failed, life will not go back to normal for you or your child any time soon. However, there are some things that you can do following the suicide attempt to work through this difficult time.

Be present. After your child tries to commit suicide, it can be really hard to know how to act. Should you show your simultaneous anger and relief? Should you be overly cheerful? The real answer is that there is no right way to act, and the most important thing that you can be is present. Your child is going to feel far more comfortable about opening up to you if you are a kind presence instead of somebody constantly asking the "Why?" question, which could make your child bottle up further.

Seek counseling. Any attempted suicide is a sign of some kind of mental instability, but it's unlikely that you and your child alone will be able to get to the root cause in order to make things better. Your child might feel more comfortable opening up to an objective ear, and so this is why it's a good idea to seek out the professional services of a trained counselor for your child. There are specialist counselors in all kinds of areas, so it is important that you choose a counselor that has specific training with teenagers and suicide attempts. Counseling can give your child a safe outlet for their feelings.  It can also help to support you as you focus on the care of your child.

Find a support group. An attempted suicide in the family doesn't only affect the person who tried to kill themselves – it can affect the whole family, and it is likely to take its toll on you too. For this reason, it can be a very good idea to seek out local support groups for the parents of teens who have attempted suicide. Your friends might be supportive during this hard time, but they won't know exactly what you've gone through, and finding those people could be hugely educational and important for you to be able to work through your grief. If you live in a remote area, there are also online groups and forums that you can join.