Suicidal ideation, which is a term that refers to thinking about killing oneself, is a stunningly and troublingly common occurrence among adolescents in the United States. According to research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16% of the nation’s high school students have seriously considered suicide, 13% have created a plan for ending their lives, and 8% have attempted to kill themselves. Tragically, more than 4,500 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 commit suicide every year, making this the third-leading cause of death among this demographic group. Suicidal ideation can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including mental health disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, stressful experiences such as academic failure or the loss of a loved one, and exposure to suicidal behaviors of peers. Regardless of the underlying cause, suicidal ideation is a serious symptom that demands effective intervention.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
Few experiences can be more devastating to a parent than the suicide of a son or daughter. If you suspect that your child has been having thoughts of suicide, the time to act is now. Please consider the following:
- Talk to your child about your concerns, and do not avoid asking direct and possibly uncomfortable questions. The fear that asking someone if they are considering suicide will push them into engaging in self-harm is a misguided belief. Having an open and honest discussion can literally be a life-saving experience.
- Remain calm and resist the urge to panic, judge, or blame. The purpose of this conversation is not to identify causes or solve the problem. At this point, your sole goal is to assess whether or not your child is in immediate danger.
- If you feel that your child may be at immediate risk, get help immediately. Call a suicide hotline or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room. Deal with the immediate crisis, then once you know that your child is safe, you can get to work on addressing the issues that led to the crisis.
- When your child is no longer in immediate danger, consult with an expert who can educate you about the types of treatment that may be best suited to help your child’s specific situation.
- Follow through. Find a program that can assess your child’s needs and provide comprehensive solutions.
Suicidal ideation should never be taken lightly. If you have even the slightest suspicion that your child may be in danger, take action and get help.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
When a youth suffers from suicidal ideation, it is likely that that young person is grappling with a serious mental health condition. In the event treatment is not sought, the resulting effects of suicidal ideation can be devastating. The presence of such a concern can worsen over time and cause that young person to begin engaging in self-harming behavior. Even more concerning is that ongoing thoughts of suicide can make a youth more vulnerable to making an attempt at suicide. Seeking effective treatment can drastically improve the life of an adolescent suffering from suicidal ideation and allow him or her to also receive care for the mental health condition or conditions that likely have caused the presence of suicidal thoughts.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care offers residential treatment for adolescents, aged 11 to 17, who are battling chronic suicidal ideation. Here at Youth Care, we are dedicated to providing treatment in a structured, home-like setting that offers a family-like atmosphere for adolescents as they work towards recovering from the concernsthat plague them. By implementing individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs, the treatment delivered at Youth Care is comprehensive and is designed to promote true and lasting healing.
The residential program here at Youth Care is founded on the principles of respect, accountability, and responsibility. Our staff uses a level system with students so that they can provide constructive feedback as students learn how to demonstrate respect and behave in appropriate ways. In doing so, students earn various privileges and increased levels of trust. We believe that the connection between privileges, accountability, trust, and responsibility is an invaluable lesson that will serve to benefit our students for the rest of their lives.
When adolescents are entrusted into our care for the treatment of suicidal ideation, they will be provided with various therapeutic interventions, which may include the following:
Medication management: There are times when certain psychotropic medications may be implemented in order to alleviate the distress that an adolescent is experiencing. The use of any medication, however, is always determined on a student-by-student basis, depending on each youth’s individual circumstances. Meetings with a psychiatrist occur on a weekly basis, and Youth Care’s nursing and medical teams will assist in handling all medication management needs.
Individual therapy: The use of individual therapy is a very important aspect of the treatment offered at Youth Care. Students will meet with their primary therapists three times every week and can also meet with an addictions counselor once each week if they are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Group therapy: At Youth Care, the use of group therapy is a major component of our students’ overall treatment plans. Various group sessions are held on a daily basis and can play an instrumental role inhelping our students learn to overcome and prevent future occurrences of suicidal ideation. The different types of groups that are offered as part of programming include the following:
- Dialectical behavior therapy groups
- Process groups
- Addictions groups
- Music therapy groups
- Recreational therapy groups
Family therapy: The role of our students’ families is crucial in helping them overcome chronic suicidal ideation. Keeping this in mind, we, at Youth Care, are dedicated to ensuring that the family members of our students are actively involved in the therapeutic process. The primary therapist for each student will conduct family therapy sessions once each week, and Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks. Parent Days include a variety of therapeutic activities, including multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family recreational activities, family therapy sessions, and educational seminars.
Recreational therapy: Recreational therapy plays another integral role in the therapeutic experience at Youth Care. Throughout our years of experience, we have found that participation in recreational activities gives adolescents a valuable opportunity to learn important life skills, including problem solving, communication, teamwork, and trust. Additionally, we have found that recreational therapy canenhance the self-esteem of our students as they develop new interests and discover talents that they did not previously know they possessed. Participating in these recreational activities also aids in enriching other types of skillsets as well, including coping skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and social skills. Our licensed recreational therapist guides and supervises students as they participate in both community and in-house recreational activities 3 to 7 times each week.
Experiential therapy: Students who are receiving treatment for suicidal ideation may also participate in various experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent at Youth Care. Examples of the experiential options that students may engage in include situational therapy, expressive therapy, and exposure therapy. Their primary therapists will work with them to determine when these therapies may be most appropriately implemented.
Community service activities: Participation in community service activities occurs at least twice every month for students at Youth Care. They will have the opportunity to take part in various types of activities, which may include visiting the elderly, caring for animals at the Humane Society, and filling shelves at the Food Bank. These experiences allow students to develop a sense of empathy towards and an understanding of others. This, in turn, can aid them as they, themselves, continue to grow and progress in their treatment.
Academics: Knowing how important education is, Youth Care has a fully accredited academic program that meets from 9:00am to 5:00pm each weekday. This program allows students to receive all of the benefits of a traditional education while also having therapeutic interventions included in their daily schedules. The curriculum is led by special education teachers and secondary education teachers, all of whom have experience with and have been trained in working with youth who have varying learning abilities. When adolescents receive treatment for suicidal ideation at Youth Care, they will not have to worry about falling behind academically because they will be able to earn school credits and achieve any academic goals they have, including graduating high school.
In addition to the treatment that is offered through our residential programming here at Youth Care, we are also pleased to offer partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students suffering from suicidal ideation. This option for day treatment allows adolescents to experience the same type of daily programming that students in the residential program receive, while being able to return home at the end of the day.
If your child is battling ongoing suicidal ideation and is in need of comprehensive treatment that will be tailored to meet his or her specific needs, look no further than Youth Care. Our caring and compassionate staff will dedicate themselves to ensuring that your child develops the skills necessary to
successfully overcome the struggles that are plaguing him or her and move forward towards the bright and happy future that he or she deserves.