The Military Child Well-being Toolkit

The MCEC Military Child Well-being Toolkit has been created to provide accessible social-emotional supports and resources directly to parents, educators, school counselors, administrators, and other youth-serving professionals working with military-connected youth.

Suicide Prevention & Awareness

This resource has been created to help parents, teachers, or other youth serving professionals who may be concerned about their military child’s or adolescent’s mental or emotional well-being. Talking about suicide prevention and awareness are challenging conversations for anyone to lead. Err on the side of caution and take proactive steps to be prepared for difficult conversations. While parents or other caring adults may sense signs of mental or emotional health struggles, not everyone feels equipped to approach these difficult conversations. This toolkit includes comprehensive resources on suicide prevention and awareness, suicide loss and grief, and specific tools and strategies for professionals, schools, and other youth serving providers (OYSP).

It is important to embrace the evidence-based approach to public health regarding suicide prevention and awareness. Normalize regular check-in conversations with children and teens (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline [NCTSN], 2020). Parents and/or guardians should always trust their gut and check-in if they are concerned or notice changes in behavior. Remain calm, listen actively, and try not to become overly anxious about approaching this topic. Knowing when to step back or press into difficult conversations about mental health and suicide is key (NCTSN, 2020).

Parents and teachers can model healthy habits for mental and emotional wellbeing. If a military child has a history of anxiety, depression, self-harm, substance abuse or suicidal ideations, monitor them closely and consider involving other youth serving professionals like school counselors, Military Family Life Counselors, or other medical professionals (CDC, 2020, CDC, 2022).

The following scenarios indicate a person may be at immediate risk for suicide. If someone says any of the following statements, contact the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention by calling or texting 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

  1. Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  2. Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun.
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

Other behaviors may also indicate a serious risk or may be related to a painful event, loss, or change (Kaslow, n.d., Smith et al., 2021, SAMHSA, n.d.).

  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable physical pain or headaches
  • Feeling like they are a burden to others
  • Change in social interactions
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Being anxious or worried often
  • Sudden reckless or impulsive behavior
  • Self-harming
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling isolated or withdrawing
  • Getting in fights or not getting along with others
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings
Parents & Professionals
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Parents of Young Children
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School Leadership
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. (2020, October 27). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. (2022, March 31). Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey (ABES). 

Child Mind Institute. (2022). Transforming Children’s Lives. 

Education Development Center, Inc. (2022). 988 messaging framework. National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. 

Kaslow, N. (n.d.) What to do if you’re worried about suicide. Child Mind Institute. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.) We can all prevent suicide. Suicide Prevention Lifeline. can-all-prevent-suicide/ 

Smith, M., Robinson, S., & Segal, R. (2021, October). Suicide Prevention.

 The National Child Traumatic Stress Network NCTSN. (2020). Understanding Child Suicide: For Military Parents.      

Suicide Prevention & Awareness: Strategies & Tools   Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (n.d.) Suicide Prevention Resources.  

Disclosure Statement: These tools are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Have a Question? Ask an MSC!

If you have a question about academic transition, education options, or how to best meet the needs of your military-connected child, connect with a Military Student Consultant. 

Our MSCs truly understand the challenges related to military life and they stand ready to serve.

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