Therapist ASAP for 11 yr old son talking about suicide

Our son confessed that he has been thinking about suicide several times this summer. He says he doesn't like himself or his life and wants the pain to go away. He had a traumatic birth and he and I (mom) had a challenging time with attachment in the early years. He has a history generalized anxiety, moodiness, and is easily dysregulated by hunger or lack of sleep. He's been having trouble falling asleep lately so his sleep deprivation is aggravating everything. He blames his 7yr old younger brother for all his troubles and has been physically and verbally aggressive with him on a daily basis. We're with Kaiser and we've been playing phone tag with the Richmond Psychiatry dept all week. We're willing to go outside of Kaiser. We just want to find someone asap who would be a good fit to work with him and the whole family, as necessary. Hoping to find someone in the Berkeley/Albany area if possible.

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i would advise you to keep advocating for your son at Kaiser Richmond.   All three of my kids have been seen by therapists there, including a psychiatrist.  You do have to go through a Friday morning intake program, but it is truly worth it. I was so impressed with the quality of therapists and very happy with the psychiatrist.

Don’t allow their messy intake system to turn you off!   Once you are in the system, it is very easy to make appointments and their quality of care is very high, especially for the price. If you have to, call every day until you get through to someone and schedule that first intake appointment. Good luck, we have been there as well. 

I hope Kaiser is responding to you immediately given your son's state. Please contact a suicide hotline if they are not.
Kaiser's psychiatry dept should make time for him immediately given he has suicidal thoughts. Ask to talk to the department manager. In the longer term, they can also give you an outside referral through Beacon or Magellan for a psychologist or counselor as counseling is not their strong point. However, they need to be able to schedule your son right away as he is in a crisis situation.


I cannot say enough wonderful things at the Kaiser Oakland Child Psychiatry team.  We tried Walnut Creek and Richmond and thankfully ended up with Mario Raya in Oakland.  Our daughter was suicidal and has anxiety and ADD and Mario and his team helped her through many rough times when we didn’t have any idea how to help her.  The group classes at Oakland really helped our daughter see that it wasn’t just her having these feelings, so be sure to sign up for as man group classes as you can. Good luck!

I am sorry to hear that you and your son are going through this. Try Reyna Cowan, PhD (510) 601-0232. She is located in Rockridge near Trader Joes. She is a very competent therapist. My son saw her for anxiety related issues when he was about 9 years old. They had a great connection and he actually looked forward to going to therapy. 

I’m not sure if she sees kids, but Dr. Amanda Carroll at Oakland Kaiser is my life-saver. She specializes in anxiety depression.

I'm sorry I don't have a therapist recommendation - I just wanted to reach out to you because I have felt so worried for you and your son after reading this yesterday. I can relate with my son who is older now but vocalized similar thoughts and we have a similar history of difficult birth and difficult behaviors which caused bonding problems, moodiness, dysregulation. It is so hard and sad to deal with. The one thing I thought I would suggest, since you mention that sleep is a big problem, and maybe you already tried this, is melatonin. We used that with my son for a couple of years and it was a god send. Of course no one wants to give a child mediation or supplements when it can be avoided, but if sleep is a real problem and it is a potentially crisis situation, then it is definitely worth it. Melatonin is generally considered safe but who knows. I use it often due to jet leg and find it very helpful.  We use a sublingual form (so no pill swallowing) you can buy at Whole Foods or probably Safeway - it comes in doses of 5mg, 2.5 mg, 1mg - we used 1mg and I would split it in half, so only .05mg - Source Naturals

Our son is 14.5 and finally getting better. We don't live in the area so I can't recommend anyone but his current counselor uses hypnosis for 1 year now plus talk therapy - and I think that has helped - or something has helped as he is finally in a much better place (and we have tried everything basically since about 2 years old from regular therapists, occupational, speech, psychological, cranial therapy, special diets - all of which helped I guess it's just a long slog of sticking with it.)

Problems going to sleep at night often have to do with "racing mind" usually a symptom of ADD etc - I also had this starting as a teen up to late 30s and a really good acupuncturist got rid of it for me in one session after decades of dealing with it (Dr. Wu Healing Center in the Richmond district of San Francisco). So far I haven't brought my son to an acupuncturist so I don't know if it would work for him. The other thing that has helped for us/him is regular swimming - swimming is a sport that often kids with ADD or on the autism spectrum or other difficulties find really beneficial and a way to make some friends. The last thing I will mention is consider sending him off to a YMCA sleep away camp next summer - they are GREAT, no electronics, nice kids, super supportive friendly atmosphere, charming cabins, beautiful settings, affordable. My son has gone twice and thrived due to their atmosphere of friendly acceptance and fun activities in nature - so much better than him sitting around at home bored and sad - there he was outside, made friends that he still keeps in touch with, got a change of scenery and away from the life/routine which was like a downward cycle. My son didn't want to go, but once we arrived and he saw the friendly kids and camp counselors, he could barely bother saying goodbye to me. Of course not possible if you feel he is really in crisis situation or a real risk - but something to think of, and a break for you and family.

I am very sorry you are dealing with this, it is a sad and scary thing for your family and your son and I hope someone has a good therapist recommendation for you.  


First of all, my heart goes out to you, and your whole family. It sounds like parenting your 11 yr old has been very difficult. I’m responding with a recommendation:

Sheri Glucoft Wong  LCSW

1715 Solano Ave


Working with Sheri has transformed our family — she is really that excellent. She is very expensive (we are at top of sliding scale, $275 per hour) but I want to emphasize — every minute will be valuable for all the members of your family. 

If this helps at all, my son who is now 15 had a childhood eerily similar to what you are describing. We had started OT at age 5, play therapy, CBT, you name it. Nothing seemed to really make a difference. Sheri spent 3 months getting to know us and was the only provider to recognize signs of asperger’s/ASD. It seems that kids who are right on the edge of ASD can often first be diagnosed with mood disorders (anxiety, depression) but what happens is that the typical emotional dysregulation is exacerbated because no one around the child understands what’s going on. I realize that this may be oversharing but I really never felt joy in my experience of my son until Sheri helped me understand what was going on.

feel free to mention us - Ava and David - if you call her.