Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Friend Is Considering Suicide

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I'm 12 and I'm trying to help my friend, who I will call Nina. She has a serious problem, at least that's what I consider it to be. Her parents work late, and the family rarely gets to see each other. Nina is a middle child, and she hates her older sister because when they were younger, her sister would often play cruel tricks on her. She is very pessimistic, and is always sad and moody, hiding it behind a hyper front. Lately she has been seriously discussing suicide; her uncle committed suicide, and she's considering it, too. My friends and I have been trying to make her stop thinking about it, but it's only getting worse. What should we do?

A: Thank you and your friends for being such caring friends to Nina. First, anytime anyone keeps talking about suicide and is always moody and pessimistic, something needs to be done. Nina doesn't seem to be able to get out of this way of thinking or change her disappointing family situation. She needs adult help now; it's long overdue. As much as she can find fault with her parents for not being around for her, they deserve to know that their daughter is in so much pain. How could they or anyone but you kids know this if she hides behind this hyper front?

You and your friends can't assume the responsibility of saving her from suicide or making her life better. You certainly can continue to be her dear friends who offer her understanding and support.

Since you say she is getting worse, you need to share your concern with your school counselor (in confidence of course), a teen suicide crisis hot line/counseling center, a therapist you can trust or your parents. You can't let Nina's potential anger at you for telling someone about her pain cause you not to take some action.

Tell her you will help her find help. Offer to go to counseling with her. But above all, don't just keep doing nothing. This is a terrible bind for you all to be in but the big concern here is not whether you all have a rough time taking action, it's about Nina's life. Sure she could be being overly dramatic about this, using these suicide conversations to be noticed and cared for. But I've learned to ALWAYS take behavior like this seriously!

Write me back to tell me what you did and how it turned out. Let's hope Nina can get the help she needs and deserves.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks