Lethal Impulse

Good communication with parents protects teens against suicide.

Tackle tough topics in ordinary conversation. Don't wait for a crisis to talk about substance abuse, bullying, peer pressure or suicide.

Give teens your undivided attention when they want to talk to you. Share parallel experiences from your adolescence.

Teach them to listen. Understand their view and meet them halfway at times. They will learn to do the same.

Set a responsible example. Don't drive home from a party after you've been drinking.


Take a stand on drugs and drinking

It's never too late to tell your teenager that drinking and drug use are not condoned. Teens need to know there are consequences, and they will be held accountable.

Practice beforehand: Talk it through with your spouse or a friend. Promise not to "lose it" with your child.

Be direct, clear and kind with your teens. Remind them that you love them even though you might disapprove of certain behaviors.

Repeat. Talking to your teen about drugs and alcohol is not a one-time event.


Gay teens at risk

Gay teenagers are more likely to kill themselves, or try. Consider:

A survey published in 2001 found that teens are about three times more likely to attempt suicide if they are gay. Researchers interviewed 13, 110 students. A separate 1999 survey of 3, 365 teens found essentially the same results.

A 1989 study estimated that suicide is two to three times more likely among gay youths and that gay youths may account for 30 percent of teen suicides. Some have questioned whether that study was accurate.

Ten other studies found high rates of attempts among gay youths -- roughly 20 percent to 40 percent. The attempts were not linked to homosexuality per se as much as to feelings of isolation.

If you are gay and considering suicide, call the Trevor Helpline: (866) 488-7386

More help
Girls and Boys Town National Hotline, (800) 448-3000.
Hopeline Network, (800) 784-2433.