"Teen Mom" Suicide Threat: Sad Opportunity for Parents to Discuss Difficult Topic

By Barbara Greenberg, Phd and Jennifer Powell-Lunder, PsyD for GalTime.com

Police in Anderson, Indiana have released a statement confirming that Teen Mom star Amber Portwood threatened to commit suicide Tuesday morning. Us Weekly contacted MTV and received the following statement: "Our understanding is that Amber has been admitted to a local hospital... Our thoughts are with her and we hope to hear more soon."

Celebrities provide us with lots of opportunities to talk to our teens about difficult topics. Sadly, their celebrity does not protect them from substance abuse, impulsivity, shop-lifting, having under-age sleepovers, and most frighteningly, suicidal threats. Amber, the teen mom, has provided us with a wellspring of topics to talk to our teens about. We wish Amber well and sincerely hope that she gets the help that she needs.

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Inadvertently, Amber has made it a little easier for parents to delve into this difficult topic. After we ask our teens how their day was and they say fine or provide some other unsatisfying response we can talk to them about what we've learned about Amber. So, rather than directly asking if they are depressed, sad, or feeling gloomy we can talk to them about Amber and find out their thoughts about sadness and suicidality in this more indirect manner. Certainly, we are more likely to get them talking by making the dialogue about a teen celebrity rather than about them or one of their friends.

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Consider what is more likely to generate discussion?
#1. Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?
OR
#2. That's so sad about Amber. What do you think might be going on with her?

With all due respect to Amber and her tough situation, this is an opportunity that parents should not let pass by.
May Amber Portwood be well and get the help that she needs. And good for her for verbalizing her feelings.

What do you think?

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