Telling your children they did a good job or saying you appreciate them can reduce thoughts of suicide. This conclusion, presented at the 2017 American Public Health Association conference, is the result of a recent follow-up analysis on a federal study on drug use in the United States.
The data reveals that parent’s behaviour has an important link to suicide among children and teenagers. “Kids need to know that someone’s got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That’s a major problem,” says Keith King, University of Cincinnati professor and lead author of the study.
The study found that children of 12 and 13 years who received little acknowledgement from their parents were about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than others of their age. This is the age group most affected by parent’s behaviour, according to the study. Those whom parents “never told them they did a good job or helped them with their homework were at excessively high risk for suicide”.
Even teenagers up to 17 years’ old are more likely to plan suicide when their parents do not engage with them. To help prevent contemplation of suicide, the study recommends parents get involved with children and demonstrate they care about them. “A key is to ensure that children feel positively connected to their parents and family,” concludes professor Rebecca Vidourek, co-author of the study.