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Families Need Help to Deal With Aftermath of Suicide Attempts

Working with therapists at Menninger, patients in the Adolescent Treatment Program learn to develop agency, or the ability to take action and exert control, over their mental illness and suicidal feelings. They learn skills to cope, ways to self-soothe and to seek out sources of support other than their parents. They also learn to share their thoughts and feelings with their parents, and to communicate with their parents if they are feeling suicidal.

Parents, in turn, learn how to listen and not overreact.

“When parents witness that their child is handling his or her feelings better, and knows when to seek help, it lowers their anxiety so much,” Dr. Hoover says.

Family therapy immediately following a suicide attempt may not be productive, Dr. Hoover says, because emotions are raw, and the suicide attempt is still fresh in the family members’ minds. Once the child who attempted suicide learns how to deal with his or her hopelessness and depression, and the parents begin to deal with their own anxieties and guilty or angry feelings, then they may be ready for family therapy. Family therapy helps family members learn how to communicate better with each other and express their feelings more constructively. br>
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