Lo sentimos, la página que usted busca no se ha podido encontrar. Puede intentar su búsqueda de nuevo o visitar la lista de temas populares.

My teenage sister has depression and suicidal ideation. She won't leave the house. How can I help her?

Writer: Lauren Allerhand, PsyD

Clinical Expert: Lauren Allerhand, PsyD

Q My sister is 16 and has been diagnosed with depression, OCD, and ADHD. She has suicidal ideation and has spent time in a psychiatric hospital in the past for self-harm. All she wants to do is sit at home on her computer, which is understandable as I have also dealt with depression. I know it can put you in a terrible cycle. But my parents don't want to push her to go to school or exercise or go outside because they're worried that the stress will lead to another suicide attempt. Any advice on how to get her moving? She's currently failing all her classes and won't be able to graduate if she continues down this track.

First, I want to note that it sounds like you’re trying to take on a lot of parental responsibility, and I’m so glad you’re reaching out to ask for help. Really, what’s needed in this situation is getting more adults involved in this process. You should talk to your parents about your concerns. Or speak with another trusted adult who can provide safe and motivational support. You could also talk to a school counselor and consider seeking out your own mental health support. Seeing your loved one suffer is extremely painful.

It’s very hard to, as another teenager, move the meter on some of these really challenging symptoms that your sister is experiencing. I think the role of a sibling is being there to sometimes provide distraction, comic relief, companionship, and basic types of support. If she seems sad, you can bring her a warm drink, offer to do something to take her mind off things, watch a movie, or go for a walk.

Beyond that, it’s important to sound the alarm to any responsible adult. Parent support or adult support is necessary for assessing risk, making sure the environment is safe, connecting to resources, and providing structure. While it’s not your responsibility to get your sister into treatment, you can really make a difference by being there for her.

If you’re worried about how to start the conversation with your parents, I suggest you lean into the idea that you’re all in this together. Start with expressing your feelings and worries for your sister. Try to talk about how you can encourage her together. A lot of parents feel like they walk on eggshells around kids who’ve made a suicide attempt. You can suggest that your parents do some research on how to keep somebody safe while also getting them into treatment. You can encourage them to look at the resources here at the Child Mind Institute or through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There are some basic safety precautions that your parents could put in place in the home that would significantly decrease the likelihood of another suicide attempt. Having more knowledge in this area could allow your parents to feel more comfortable pushing your sister to seek treatment.

This article was last reviewed or updated on October 31, 2022.