should I do if I am worried about somebody else’s child?
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
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.
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
When your child tells you about someone he is worried about
- “I have something difficult to tell you but I believe
that I must.”
- “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
- “ How is John doing? I noticed that he was saying…..doing…….”
- “I imagine you are aware and concerned, I noticed that
John was ….”
- Ask for as much specific information as he is able to give.
- Stress that safety is the top priority and a friend should
not have the responsibility of handling another friend’s
life by himself.
- 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.
- Do not let you child implement a plan to help by himself. You
can work together if your child wants to be included.
- 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.