In its most severe state, depression or bipolar disorders can cause a child to pose risks to themselves or others. Suicidal or homicidal thinking should be addressed immediately and may require hospitalization.

If a child shows signs of impaired judgment, self-control, or awareness, hospitalization may be recommended. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of death or suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK or text DBSA to 741-741. If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Having a plan for safety in advance of a crisis is important to consider for both the child and the other members of the household. Things to consider for safety planning:

  • Place items that could be used for self-harm out of reach of the child, including medications.
  • Know which hospital you will go to and who will take the child. If there are siblings that will need care, have a plan for them to be looked after.
  • If you cannot take the child to the hospital because of the severity of the circumstance, seek out crisis services. Identify a local mental health agency that offers these services and keep this information handy.

During a time of calm, remember to discuss safety plans with all family members so that there can be clearer communication during a crisis. It can be difficult, but during crisis situations, it is important to try and remain as calm as possible. If an adult is also demonstrating a strong stress response during a crisis, the child may become more upset. Children can feel very scared if they are in a crisis state. By staying calm and speaking softly, you can better help your child feel safe.