How to Help a Suicidal Parent: Rekindling Hope Through Treatment

It makes sense that you’re confused about how to help a suicidal parent—fear and established relationship patterns and denial can all serve as barriers to their recovery. But it is critical that they receive urgent treatment, so read on to learn how you can find help and what you can expect from professional treatment options.

In the event of a crisis, please call an emergency service such as 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) immediately.

Seth’s dad lives thousands of miles away. His dad has friends and support, but he also lives and spends a lot of time alone. He has suffered from depression and has gone through ups and downs throughout Seth’s life. But lately, his condition has become even more volatile, and he has told Seth that he thinks about ending his life.

Seth has a wife and kids, and his job is demanding. Thinking about his dad in this condition so far away is incredibly overwhelming—and it would almost be easier to just focus on what is in front of him and assume that everything is going to be okay anyway. But Seth lies awake at night and can’t concentrate at work because the worry and guilt and helplessness seem to consume him.

Knowing how to help a suicidal parent is not necessarily intuitive. We can get caught up in our lifelong roles and dynamics that position parents as the ones in charge and in control. We can lose our confidence in fear. We can become paralyzed, not knowing whether our attempts to talk about the problems might make the problems worse. But there are steps you can take now to help your parent restabilize and rediscover their positive connections to life.

Understanding How to Help a Suicidal Parent Get on the Healing Path


The first thing you need to put in perspective is the fact that if your parent is suicidal, they are likely dealing with a very serious mental health disorder—and that disorder is treatable. There are treatment options ready and waiting, and they could serve to reroute this destructive course and set your parent on a path of real healing. On the other hand, denial and resistance perpetuate a dangerous course of incredibly poor quality of life or the untimely end of life.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the confusion you’re feeling around your mother or father’s helplessness and despair, they may be feeling that confusion too. Even if you are very close, the established patterns and expectations around the parent-child relationship can serve as barriers to productive communication about suicide and mental health. But these barriers are not set in stone; in fact, they are not relevant anymore between adults. And it is not worth it to protect historical family dynamics over your parent’s health and life right now.

It’s time to have an open and welcoming conversation about what they are really going through. The new patterns and expectations that you can establish in this way will reinforce that they deserve and have access to the help and care that can counteract their suffering.

You can read more here about how to talk to someone who is suicidal.

If you have reason to believe that your parent is considering suicide, reach out for urgent help now. Don’t wait. You can call 911, or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). In doing so, you can deal with the immediate danger to your parent’s life. And then a broader treatment approach can help to heal their depression or other mental health issues in an empowering and lasting way.

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Does Your Suicidal Parent Need Treatment? And How Can They Get It?


Whether your parent lives right around the corner or hundreds or thousands of miles away, you can help connect them with the treatment they really need. When someone is suicidal, their condition is very vulnerable, and professional help is critical to mitigate the terrible risks and set them on a path toward stability. When you take the risk of avoiding professional care, you are risking your parent’s life.

When your parent is depressed or otherwise compromised by mental illness, they may not be in a position to claim the kind of help they really need. So, it is even more important that you are willing to recognize the signs of danger and make the call that could save their life. With comprehensive treatment, clinicians will develop a personalized plan that takes into account their history, their needs, and their preferences. Select treatment options may incorporate medication, psychotherapy, holistic therapies, structured family support, and continuing care even after the initial treatment program ends. When you help to connect your parent with professional treatment, right away, you are helping to establish a long-term system of reliable support from experts who really can make a difference.

You are not being overdramatic or alarmist when you think that any future moment may be too late. Now is the time to assist your parent in getting help if they are experiencing suicidal ideation, planning, or attempts. Remember that any barriers to treatment are never as important or as powerful as their need for help.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for mental health disorders as well as process addictions and phase of life issues. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to healing.

In the event of a crisis, please call an emergency service such as 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) immediately.