Getting Your Home Ready for Your Child

If your child was suicidal or made an attempt, you will want to ask how much of his new medication constitutes an overdose. Ask this several days before discharge, because you may need to buy a lockbox or safe in which to store medication. You’ll also need a medication dispensing tray (available in any pharmacy) to set up a week’s worth of medication at a time. You don’t want to retrieve bottles multiple times a day, because the more you open and close a lockbox, the greater the odds are that you’ll leave the key somewhere or your child will see the combination.

Ask if it’s safe to leave a tray with a week’s worth of meds out and accessible. Believe it or not, the doctor probably won’t know the answer off the top of her head, unless the medication is particularly potent. If it’s dangerous to leave a week’s worth of meds out, buy a tray with detachable compartments that allow you to take a day’s worth out at a time. That way you can organize the whole week, keep the bulk of it in the lockbox, and take out only a single day’s medication.

If your child has been suicidal or made an attempt, before he comes home do a clean sweep of your home, and especially his room. Hopefully the doctors have told you what method of suicide your child was contemplating. This will help you prioritize what to remove or look for. Lock up high-risk items like firearms, all prescriptions (including your own) and over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and aspirin. Remove poisons (including toxic cleaning products), sharp objects like razors and knives and large plastic bags. You will also need to wrestle with how to make sure that for the next few weeks your child is not left alone for more than very short periods of time at home.

If you suspect your child has hidden something dangerous (sharps, medications, illicit drugs) but you still can’t find it, Google “best places to hide ____ in your bedroom.” Your child may have visited that page ahead of you.

For a more comprehensive list of steps to take to “sanitize” your home, check the Grief Speaks website.

Get the discharge instructions that tell you what to do and be sure to sign a release saying you’d like the discharge summary when it is ready and to whom you want the discharge summary sent. If your child was given any kind of psychological or ed-psych testing, make sure to get a copy of those results before leaving, too.