Suicide Awareness and Prevention

This article is sponsored by UnityPoint Health—Des Moines.

Des Moines Mom wants to create a safe space for ongoing conversations about mental health. That is why we created this series, Mental Health and Motherhood.

In this monthly series, we’re going to be talking about mental health for ourselves, for our kids, our spouses, and our families. We could talk about the importance of mental health for days. Some topics we want to dig into are anxiety and depression, bullying, postpartum depression, and therapy in general. 

September is Suicide Awareness Prevention month and we had the honor of talking with Kate Simmons, LMHC at Blank Children’s STAR Center about related topics to mental health and suicide. 

Find the rest of our conversations about mental health and motherhood here

What are some ways to create open dialogue about mental health?

  • Practice talking about your feelings in front of your child so they know it’s okay to have hard days
  • Model and practice healthy coping skills
  • Make a habit of creating solo, consistent conversations with your child about their feelings and how their day has been.
  • Validate what they are experiencing so they know you care and hear them

What are some red flags or suicide warning signs?

  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Dramatic mood changes – isolation or irritability 
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
  • Concerning social media posts from your child
  • Gathering items to be used in their suicide plan
  • Giving away belongings 
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones

What should I do if I need to get help for my child?

  • Ask your child if they’ve thought about harming themselves and if they have a plan:
    • Lockup all prescription and non-prescription medications
    • Lockup all sharp objects or weapons
  • If they are actively suicidal, take your child to an emergency room or urgent care facility
  • Start mental health therapy or contact their mental health therapist ASAP
  • Make sure your child knows that you are there to support them through this 

Additional Resources:

UnityPoint Health – Eyerly Ball Mobile Crisis Team

Polk County Health Services

I’m Happy-Sad Today: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feeling

My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings 

If Anybody Asks Me…: 1,001 Focused Questions for Educators, Counselors, And Therapists

Piccadilly 3000 Questions About Me Journal 

Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety, and Anger

About Kate Simmons 

Kate Simmons is a licensed mental health therapist at Blank Children’s STAR Center and on-call therapist for UnityPoint Health -Eyerly-Ball’s Mobile Crisis Response Team. She previously served as an inpatient pediatric mental health therapist at Iowa Lutheran Hospital and has experience working with children and families in outpatient, in-home and residential settings.  Kate specializes in working with childhood trauma and uses trauma-focused and strength-based approaches to create a safe environment for children and adolescents to heal.


For our whole conversation and Suicide Awareness and Prevention, watch the Facebook interview

*post contains affiliate links


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