Severe depression and thoughts of suicide are difficult things for a parent to contemplate about their kids. But how should parents address these issues?
On "The Early Show," Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, said parents need to intervene if a child seems to be reaching this point.
"It's really important to ask a lot of questions, to get them help," she said. "Really encourage (your) children to be active participants in their therapy because that's really the most important thing, figuring out how to not be hopeless anymore, but to move toward a life worth living."
Hartstein said parents need to be on the lookout for any change in mood.
"Teenage depression doesn't look like adult depression. They may still be going about their business, and they may still go to school, so they have to be aware of any change in mood, are they giving possessions away, are they avoiding activities they used to like, are they saying good bye in ways that make you uncomfortable," Hartstein said. "It's kind of the subtleties that you need to be aware of, so that you can jump in and ask them if they need some help."
Hartstein said if a child is contemplating suicide, parents need to ask them if they are.
"Ask it in an open-ended way," she said. "…Don't be afraid to put that idea in their head because you're not going to. If they're having the thought, it's there already."
If a teen isn't comfortable talking to a parent, Hartstein said parents can encourage children to talk to another trusted adult for guidance and support.