When Kids Say, “I’m Better Off Dead.”

A concerned parent came to us for testing because on more than one occasion her son said, “I shouldn’t be alive. I’m better off dead.” Before contacting us, this mom had already hid all the sharp knives in her home.  She was wise to seek professional support rather than dismissing or scolding her child for saying that since suicide in children is a real concern. According to the Center for Disease Control’s website and Youth Risk Survey Data, among adolescents aged 12-17, 18.8% had seriously considered attempting suicide, 15.7% made a suicide plan, and 8.9% attempted suicide. These percentages are higher for youth of color and those identifying as LGBTQ.

Our school neuropsychological testing revealed he had ADHD and learning disabilities which caused significant school problems. This boy was viewed as the class clown and became the one people pointed to and assumed was the disruptive cause when there was a problem. This contributed to him feeling rejected by most of his peers and teacher. Furthermore, his learning disabilities interfered with his reading, writing, and spelling so he was academically behind his peers. This caused embarrassment and he felt stupid.  His circumstances created the perfect storm for him to cry out to his parent that he was better off dead.  This boy had no suicidal plan but he did not have the appropriate words to express he wanted help and understanding.

This boy’s mom wanted to know how to help and our testing results report provided recommendations.  They obtained a public school plan called an Individualized Education Plan which provided specialized instruction. As a family they began working with a counselor to improve home communication and understanding.  Step by step they made changes to help their child’s mental health and learning.

If you or your child have suicidal thoughts or behaviors, call or text 988 for the suicide and crisis lifeline. You know your child best so if you are concerned about a potential learning disability, autism, or ADHD, call to discuss your child (561) 625 4125.