Real Advice from Elyssa’s Mom

From my own personal experience, I offer the following recommendations. If your child is suffering from depression, anxiety, and/or impulsiveness, here are suggestions of what to do:

Find a team of doctors: psychologist(s), psychiatrist, pediatrician/internist who have a relationship and will work as a team consulting one another on your child’s emotional well-being. Two psychologists are needed: one for the child/adolescent and one for the parents to act as a resource and support.

Build a strong support system in your school. Have an on-going dialogue with a teacher, social worker, or administrator who will act as your child’s advocate. Be open about your child’s illness and have access to all writings and conversations that occur in the school.

Read your child’s books, notes and anything else you can get your hands on, including a journal or diary. This was hard for me to do, but it was how I learned what was really going on in my child’s head.

Talk openly to your child about suicide and the effects of suicide on him/her and the effects on you, family and friends. Don’t dismiss your child’s thoughts as being unrealistic. Don’t try to convince yourself that your child is not thinking about it. Most likely, your child is thinking about it.

Help your child’s friends understand what is going on with your child and how they can help by communicating with you when they are concerned about their friend. I suggest educating your child’s friends on suicidal warning signs, and ask the friends to call you if they detect any such signs.

Speak to your child’s friends’ parents. Share what is happening with your child and ask them to communicate with you should they hear anything from their children that may be helpful.

Ask yourself and ask your psychologist/psychiatrist if your child needs a therapeutic environment. If your child is talking about suicide, he/she does need a therapeutic environment and your therapist should provide recommendations.

Take all hints and signals of suicidal thoughts seriously.

Don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide” when creating a circle of support.

Don’t think you know what is going on inside your child’s head because you don’t.

Written contracts mean nothing!! Elyssa signed one with her psychologist.

Excessive sleeping or “napping” is not ordinary behavior in an adolescent.

Educate yourself on all medications that are prescribed and what their side effects are. Please talk to your doctor about what can happen when your child is taken off medication.

Medication in conjunction with therapy can be a successful form of treatment. Therapy, with the right therapist, is crucial to the success of mental illness.