Councelor/Therapist Questions Suicidal thoughts

What can I do for my child with suicidal thoughts?

My 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and now I see that she has suicidal thoughts. We don't know what to do. We have taken her to counseling, and she doesn't want to take her medications at all. Do you think she needs to be hospitalized? What do you suggest we do?

8 Answers

Suicidal thoughts should be taken very seriously. It is vital you take her to the emergency room or a behavioral hospital to be evaluated. The professionals who see her will determine if she needs to be hospitalized or not.
Of course you are worried. You don’t say what medications she is supposed to be taking, and whether they were prescribed by a psychiatrist or a PC. In my opinion you should contact that physician and seek a good evaluation from a mental health specialist, perhaps at a hospital or affiliated with a hospital with a mental health unit that takes people of 16. Your instinct is to do something – that is good! The ‘something’ should be at a skilled professional level.


Marian K. Shapiro
If you believe that your daughter is a serious threat to herself or someone else, I would suggest hospitalization. If she is not posing a threat to hurt herself or someone else, I would speak to her about her medications. Have her counselor talk to her as well about the benefits of medication. Many people are afraid that medications will alter their mindset or it will be a permanent thing. Medications, especially for anxiety and depression, are meant to be temporary and can usually be stopped once the individual resolves their issues. If the medications are helping, but she is still refusing to take them, you can also try to put them in her drink or food.


Ashley Frantz, PhD
I recommend you take her to a psychologist for an evaluation and treatment recommendations. I expect the recommendations will most likely include therapy 2X each week and psychotropic medication. Suicidal ideation is different than suicidal intent. The psychologist may maintain she or he can effectively work with your daughter in therapy without her utilizing medication to decrease symptoms of depression. On the other hand, the psychologist may suggest a higher level of care, i.e., a day treatment program associated with a hospital or mental health treatment center where she participates in individual and group therapy during the day and also meets with a psychiatrist for medication management. Finally, if she is in dire need of medication to treat her depression or if she represents an imminent threat to her safety, you should have her hospitalized. The staff will insure her safety 24 hours each day, and she will have to comply with taking medication there and  begin individual and group therapy.  
If you think she is in immediate danger, call 911 or a suicide hotline number — such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) in the US. If you suspect that she is thinking about suicide, talk to her immediately do not be afraid to use the word "suicide" it won't plant ideas in her head. Ask her about her feelings and listen. Don't dismiss her problems. Listen to her and reassure her you love her. Remind her that you are willing to help. She may need a higher level of care.
Try to make her take her medication or be willing to try to get her different ones if those medications bother her. She will most likely get worse and usually by hanging out with the wrong people, and feeling sorry for herself, etc
I recommend seeking the professional advice of a mental health clinician who knows your daughter. We certainly want to take all suicidal thoughts and behaviors very seriously and a well-trained clinician can likely work with your daughter and your family to develop a plan to keep her safe. If that is not possible, then hospitalization may be necessary.
See these links which can help: