COPE's free parent workshops will resume in October. In the meantime, check Topics for Parents for information on those (and other) topics.


Scroll down this page for information about:

  • Suicide
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Traumatic Events
  • Mental Health
  • Cutting and Self Harm

Be prepared for a crisis, know who to turn to for support, have the right information and understand how to best convey it to your family. Substance abuse, both drugs and alcohol, are very real problems that you can’t hide from your child. Learn how to communicate the dangers of risky behavior in age-appropriate ways well before your child faces them directly. You need to know the warning signs if your child is in trouble and where to turn to for help. With frightening regularity another traumatic event is in the news, anticipating your child’s emotions and questions will help you provides reassurance and makes everyone feel safe.


If you, your child or someone you know is in crisis, reach out for help immediately.

Click here to see our local resource directory for crisis support and intervention.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.


New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention — Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) is committed to decreasing youth suicide.  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for New Jersey’s youth ages 10-24.   Parents, professionals and/or just concerned citizens can use the following resources for support and/or guidance related to suicide or suicide prevention.

New Jersey’s 24/7 Peer Support & Suicide Prevention Hotline:


What are the warning signs that someone may be at risk? If you are concerned about someone, ask yourself the following questions. Has your friend or family member shown or shared any of the following:

  1. Talking about wanting to die, be dead, or about suicide, or are they cutting or burning themselves?
  2. Feeling like things may never get better, seeming like they are in terrible emotional pain (like something is wrong deep inside but they can’t make it go away), or they are struggling to deal with a big loss in their life?
  3. Or is your gut telling you to be worried because they have withdrawn from everyone and everything, have become more worried or on edge, seem unusually angry, or just don’t seem normal to you?

For more detailed information about warning signs in adults, click here.

For more information about warning signs for youths, click here.

Are you a teen looking for help? If you’re down and feeling like there is no one to turn to, know that you are not alone. Call this hotline for someone to talk to: 1-855-654-6735

Is a friend in distress? How should you respond if you are worried about a friend? Here are some things that you can say and do to help:

  1. Be empathetic: ask your friend if he is okay and listen to them like a true friend.
  2. Tell your friend that you are worried and concerned about her and that they are not alone. If you are with her, stay with her until help arrives; don’t hesitate to reach out to an adult for help. Your friend may be upset at the time but it may prevent her from harming herself.
  3. Talk to an adult you trust about your concerns and direct the adult to this page listing warning signs in youth if the adult doesn’t know where to turn.

Click here for a resource guide for teens.

Are you a parent or caregiver concerned about a young person? Adolescence is a time of change, when young people may experience stress from many sources, including relationships with friends and family members and problems at school. Many high school students report thinking about suicide, and in 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people ages 13 to 19 years.

For more information about warning signs in children and teens, click here.

It’s important to understand both the factors that increase the risk of suicide for teens as well as the factors that help protect them from suicide. Here are a few examples:

Risk factors

  • Depression and other mental health problems
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Feelings of social isolation
  • Difficult life situations (abuse, bullying, poverty)

Protective factors

  • Life skills (problem-solving, coping)
  • Social support from family, friends, and others
  • Positive school experiences

You can help increase an individual’s resiliency by strengthening protective factors and mitigating risk factors. Being in a teen’s corner to celebrate success and help navigate challenges is important. Teens often present a confident façade that hides vulnerability. Regardless of their bravado, teens need adult guidance and caring. Even if it seems like you might not be heard, persist in reminding her that you’re there for her.

The website for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center includes links to resources for teens and families:

Link to an article to understand Why Predicting Suicide is a Difficult and Complex Challenge

It can be challenging to help your teen when he or she has a friend in crisis

In-Depth Articles:

Drugs and Alcohol

In-Depth Articles:

Traumatic Events

In-Depth Articles:

Mental Health


In-Depth Articles:

In-Depth Articles:

Cutting and Self-Harm

Cutting and self-harm is another way that teens may manage hard emotions. Here is a link for more information:



Quick Tips:

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Are you, a friend or family member struggling with food or exercise issues? The National Eating Awareness Association  has resources to help. Click here to take the National Eating Disorder Awareness quiz as a first step.


The Netflix series 13 Reason Why, a fictional story about teen suicide, has made us all aware about the tragedy of teen suicide. Starting a conversation with your child about suicide is not easy, but it is very important and can be life-saving. Whether or not your child watches the series, be aware of the issues it raises and the possible effect on your child and your child’s friends. Don’t do nothing because you don’t know how to start the conversation. The Jed Foundation and have created 13 Reasons Why: Talking Points ( click on the title to access the talking points in both English and Spanish) as a resource to help parents and educators.

According to Dr. Deborah Gilboa on The Today Show: “This show is just one way of opening that conversation at home. If you don’t want to use this entry, find another,” she said. “Teens need to know that their adults are ready to talk about difficult topics, this one in particular.”

Dr. Gilboa said that more important than the show is how your individual child reacts to it. “I would watch my child even more than I watch the show, to see if they are affected by or interested in any of the topics or scenes. I’d also watch for their reactions.”

For help:

Call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  or Text “START” to 741-741


While we should all know how to recognize the warning signs of mental warning signs of mental illness, it is equally important to build our children’s emotional resiliency. Feeling good about ourselves and using positive coping strategies when faced with challenges ourselves not only models healthy behavior for our children, it enhances our own emotional well being. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides tips for every day life that promote children’s social and emotional health.

We can also substitute this link for the warning signs of mental illness, if you feel it is more appropriate:


Don’t be afraid to ask for help: sometimes people see asking for help as a sign of weakness when it is in fact the exact opposite. Knowing that something is wrong and reaching out to a counselor, family member or, a friend takes a lot of strength and courage. Everyone gets overwhelmed at times and some may need some outside help to understand why. The quicker one addresses their emotions the quicker one can get the appropriate help they need to start feeling better and living a happier life. By the same token, if you see someone close to you struggling, ask if you can help; sometimes that simple question lets them know that someone else cares and it can make all the difference. The Cope Center can help you find a counselor if you don’t know to whom to turn. (embed link in “The Cope Center”)


A Parent’s Sixth Sense: Getting Help When Something Just Not Right With Your Child

By now, the routine of the school year has been established, it may be a good time to step back and think about how your child is doing, both academically and emotionally. All children face challenges, and like adults, kids have good days and bad. If when you ask yourself how your child is doing, it feels like their difficulties are interfering with their ability to function normally, it might be a good idea to reach out for help.

Is your child having difficulty at home, in school, with friends or within the family? Are those difficulties affecting their ability to eat or sleep? Are they having a hard time in situations where they used to be okay? Are these problems significant enough that are causing your child or other family members distress? If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, reach out to a professional, like your pediatrician, school counselor or clergy. The Mayo Clinic explains about recognizing warning signs in children. Contact the Cope Center if you need help finding the right resources for your family.

There are many reasons why children struggle with school work, but if it seems like “something isn’t right,” trust your instinct and check in with your child’s teacher or counselor. If your child does have a learning disability, early intervention is critical to getting the right support in place. Click here for a useful resource is from the Learning Disability Association of American explains the range of learning disabilities and disorders.


The important take-away is that you, as a parent, best knows your child. Trust your instinct and when something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.


Mayo Clinic article:

Linked LD article:



Here’s our check-list for getting the facts about drugs, alcohol and their effects, where to get help and what you can do to help your teens make good choices. Click on any of the links for more information.


  1. Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse
  2. Get information to help you talk with your teens about drugs and their effects, and learn where to go to get help.
  3. A Letter to Parents: Facts Parents Need to Know
  4. Encourage Your Teen to Get the Facts For Themselves.
  5. Watch the documentary Addiction as a family and use the FAQ materials prepared by the National Institute of Health to help facilitate your family’s conversation.


It can be frightening to think about what you don’t know about your teen’s life and activities, but remember that knowledge is power and unless you start the conversation, you won’t be able to help them make good choices.


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June 2018