Every year there are tragedies in which children shoot and kill individuals after making threats. When this occurs, everyone asks themselves, "How could this happen?" and "Why didn't we take the threat seriously?"
Most threats made by children or adolescents are not carried out. Many such threats are the child's way of talking big or tough, or getting attention. Sometimes these threats are a reaction to a perceived hurt, rejection, or attack.
Examples of potentially dangerous or emergency situations with a child or adolescent include:
Child and adolescent psychiatrists and other mental health professionals agree that it is very difficult to predict a child's future behavior with complete accuracy. A person's past behavior, however, is still one of the best predictors of future behavior. For example, a child with a history of violent or assaultive behavior is more likely to carry out his/her threats and be violent.
The presence of one or more of the following increases the risk of violent or dangerous behavior:
When a child makes a serious threat it should not be dismissed as just idle talk. Parents, teachers, or other adults should immediately talk with the child. If it is determined that the child is at risk and the child refuses to talk, is argumentative, responds defensively, or continues to express violent or dangerous thoughts or plans, arrangements should be made for an immediate evaluation by a mental health professional with experience evaluating children and adolescents.
Evaluation of any serious threat must be done in the context of the individual child's past behavior, personality, and current stressors. In an emergency situation or if the child or family refuses help, it may be necessary to contact local police for assistance or take the child to the nearest emergency room for evaluation.
Note: Sometimes the community resources we usually trust the most such as public schools, police and human services face barriers that allow children to fall through the cracks. Whatever you do, do NOT give up until you make someone listen.If you know your child needs help and it seems that all community resources have been exhausted go to any hospital emergency room - even if it needs to be in a different county/city/state.
Children who have made serious threats must be carefully supervised while awaiting professional intervention. Immediate evaluation and appropriate ongoing treatment of youngsters who make serious threats can help the troubled child and reduce the risk of tragedy.
Protect Your Teenager : Many teens attempt suicide on impulse, and there's no second chance with a gun.
Counting on a teen's ability to resist strong emotional impulses when there is a gun is not a good idea. Young people need safe environments that protect them from deadly harm.
Many teens who attempt suicide do so because of a temporary problem, like the end of a romance. When guns are involved, teens can waste their lives and destroy the happiness of their friends and families in an instant. They are thinking of a passing problem, not the outcome!
Teens often see any change as a major life event. Adults and teens need to talk about things, like budding sexuality and taking responsibility for one's own actions, as they occur.
It is best to not have any guns in homes where children or teenagers live. If there is a gun:
Many communities have laws that prevent teenagers from getting their own weapons. Find out what the laws are in your community and ask that they be enforced. Most young survivors of a serious suicide attempt do not commit suicide later, and most survivors of suicide attempts are glad they were saved.
A free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you. No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living.
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.