Bullying resources: How to talk to kids and identify the signs

DENVER — As suicide rates continue to climb, experts say now is the time for parents to take a good look at how they are communicate with their children.

Recognizing the warning signs of bullying is key to prevent depression and suicide.

Every day an estimated 160,000 children in the U.S. stay home from school out of fear, according to Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, a Denver child psychologist who is an expert on bullying.

RELATED: Bullying prevention resources

To identify bullying warning signs, Ziegler provided a some tips.

  • Parents should look for changes in children’s sleeping and eating patterns
  • Know when children’s friendships are lost or change in some way
  • Connect to children’s social media accounts and know the passwords
  • Ask: “What was the high and low of your day?”

“Every day all of us experience something that was a low of some sort,” Ziegler said.

Experts said children — not adults — are usually the ones who first sound the alarm on bullying.

That knowledge is highlighting the need for schools to focus more on educating kids to speak up.

Several school districts have posted bullying prevention resources on their websites.

Ziegler said cyberbullying has the greatest reach and often happens without anyone knowing. She warned many children will create secondary social media accounts parents are unaware of.

The bullying can sometimes lead to suicide.

“Suicide rates have doubled in the past decade,” Ziegler said. “We have a very serious problem.”

RELATED: 10-year-old girl takes her own life after suspected bullying incident recorded on video

RELATED: Suicide prevention resources

HelpGuide.org provides some tips on how to recognize warning signs of suicide.

  • Talking about suicide: Words about dying or self-harm
  • Withdrawing from others: Isolating themselves and a desire to want to be alone
  • Self-hatred: A person may feel worthless or ashamed and say things like “everyone would be better without me.”

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, the following resources are available:

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-TALK): If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call this toll-free number 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. When you call Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master’s or doctoral degree.

Colorado Crisis Services Walk-In Locations: Walk-in crisis services are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need. Visit http://coloradocrisisservices.org to find locations.

Colorado Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline – 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437 as the best resource for readers to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

The number serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to all Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect concerns. All callers are able to speak with a call-taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Experts say if you see the warning signs in someone you love it’s a good idea to talk to them.

HelpGuide.org recommends saying things such as “I have been feeling concerned about you lately” or “I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

It’s important to listen to them, be sympathetic, and take them seriously.

If you, or anyone you know, is having suicidal thoughts you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.