Keeping Our Kids Alive: Parenting a suicidal young person

Dr Lyn O’Grady

Psychological Services Group



Suicide is a confronting topic. As a parent, it may represent the greatest fear for our family. Yet, for many, there is a misguided belief that talking about suicide with young people causes further distress. Research shows otherwise — not talking about suicide can be harmful.

Psychologist Lyn O’Grady has spent decades working, researching and presenting on better mental health for children, young people and families. Along the way, she has witnessed the desperate struggle with life that suicidal thoughts and feelings bring. She has also seen countless books about parenting, usually featuring simplistic recipe-type approaches that can be appealing but challenging to implement at times of crisis.

So she wrote this book to explain exactly what it means to be a parent of a teenager who is struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviours and how to help. Drawing on practical experience across a range of community settings, the lived experience of people and families who have experienced suicidality, and the latest research and theories in the field, this book helps:

  • to arm parents with knowledge so they can better understand what’s going on with their teenager
  • to provide space to reflect on their parenting and to look after themselves
  • to not feel alone; and
  • to know what to do to support their teenagers during difficult times.

 This book will help any parent or health worker working with families to understand how to connect and communicate with teenagers when dealing with the topic of suicide. 


About the Author

Dr Lyn O’Grady, DPsych, MSuicidology, Grad Dip (Applied Psychology), BArts, is a registered Community Psychologist with a longstanding interest in the mental health of children, young people and families. She has worked with parents in community settings as well as with children and young people in school settings for over two decades. She served as the Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) National Manager for KidsMatter, an Australian children’s mental health initiative for early childhood services and schools, for six years. During this period, she was often called upon as the media spokesperson in relation to children’s mental health for print and radio interviews. In 2019 she was the APS’s spokesperson for the national Psychology Week promotion of their Digital Me Survey results, about the impact of social media on young people.

Lyn regularly presents at mental health conferences and is an accomplished facilitator of webinars on a range of mental health topics, reaching extensive numbers of health professionals through  the national Mental Health Professionals Network. She delivered a series of webinars about suicide risk in early 2018 through the APS Institute and has co-authored a number of book chapters in international psychology handbooks and journal articles in the Australian Community Psychologist.