Safeguarding Children:

Parents’ Guide To Keeping Kids Suicide-Safe

A national suicide prevention charity has launched a new guide to help desperate parents who fear for their children’s lives.

PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide says families across the UK feel powerless and with nowhere to turn as their children suffer mental anguish and distress.

The new guide offers practical and professional advice to help break the silence around self-harm and suicide and encourage fearful parents to talk to their children before it is too late.

It was commissioned by the mother and father of a 15-year-old boy who took his own life, parents who were frustrated by the lack of information and resources for worried families.

Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, said: “That family felt utterly helpless as they attended the hospital emergency department prior to their schoolboy son’s death by suicide.

“No parent should ever have to go through that and it was their heartfelt wish that a new resource should be produced which is full of clear and accessible evidence-based advice and vital information to help keep our children suicide-safe.”

Another bereaved parent, Sangeeta Mahajan from London, who lost her 20-year-old son Sagaar to suicide, said: “Parenting a child who is deeply despondent is a difficult job. It is a lonely and powerless place to be. I hope PAPYRUS and the valuable information in this leaflet will empower parents to be able to connect with their children at a time when that connection can be life-saving."

Almost 40% of the calls, texts and emails to the charity’s HOPELINEUK service are from someone who is concerned about a young person who may be having thoughts of suicide. Around 80% of those are parents.

The new guide, Supporting Your Child - Self-Harm and Suicide, has been endorsed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

Dr Catherine Hayhurst, RCEM Mental Health Lead, said: "The Royal College of Emergency Medicine highly recommends this guide for parents, recognising that the experience for parents whose child has self-harmed or is suicidal is incredibly challenging.

“This guide is practical and will help parents understand what may be happening with their child and access support for them as parents."

The information can be downloaded by going to: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Supporting-Your-Child-A-Guide-for-Parents.pdf and the guide is also available in Welsh: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Supporting-Your-Child-A-Guide-for-Parents-CYMRAEG.pdf 

PAPYRUS says those who struggled during lockdown now face longer-term emotional distress and are not getting the support services they are used to.

Ged Flynn added: “Many mums and dads have been worried sick as they see their children unable to access their usual support due to recent restrictions.

“As we gradually open society back up again some children remain on lengthy waiting lists for treatment and, as families wait, parents often fear for their children’s lives.

“In my view, this is scandalous. Saving young lives is no longer a national priority and we must change that.

“For many parents, suicide is the unspoken dread. This daily unsaid fear may be crippling many adults who have nowhere to turn to in their darkest hour. Meanwhile, children continue to suffer mental anguish and distress, sometimes covering up their feelings because they feel powerless too.

“Our new resource aims to fill a real gap. It provides hope to those who feel alone, cut off and frightened in supporting the children they love so much.

“We are very keen to get the message out to parents and caregivers that you are not alone. We are here for you.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.
For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org