What should I do if I am worried about somebody else’s child?

If you have knowledge that someone else’s child may be at risk for suicide or harming himself, speak with that child’s parent immediately.  You could save the child’s life or, at least, provide support to another parent who is very worried.

What to say

You must assume that parents of a child at risk would want you to communicate what you know to them. It is important to report your direct observations and give information without value judgments or diagnoses. Share with the other parent that you are worried and feel the need to speak with them. Be supportive and empathetic to the other parent.


There are deep and powerful social barriers related to stigmas about suicide and mental health needs.  There are also barriers in a community about intruding into the family life of others. Parents of teenagers often do not talk to other teens’ parents or even know them.  At times, it is helpful to acknowledge these barriers that we all experience. Talking about them weakens them. If another parent does not respond positively, do not be discouraged.  You were probably helpful in ways that could not be acknowledged at that time.

Some words to begin a conversation
  1. “I have something difficult to tell you but I believe that I must.”
  2. “I do not know what this means exactly but I want to tell you that I have observed your child saying/doing …… and I thought I must tell you.”
  3. “ How is John doing?  I noticed that he was saying…..doing…….”
  4. “I imagine you are aware and concerned, I noticed that John was ….”
When your child tells you about someone he is worried about
  1. Ask for as much specific information as he is able to give.
  2. Stress that safety is the top priority and a friend should not have the responsibility of handling another friend’s life by himself.
  3. Make a plan to inform the parent of the other child. Explain it to your child with the understanding that you would rather him have an angry friend than a friend who hurt or killed himself.
  4. Do not let you child implement a plan to help by himself. You can work together if your child wants to be included.
  5. For Needham Public School students, if you do not know the parents or need advice, you can call a school counselor or the director of guidance at the high school.




Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Support and Help Around You