Let me ask you a question.
How often are you talking to your children? How often are you doing Mental Health Checks with your children?
You’re probably confused as to why I’m asking you these questions since I focus on Maternal Mental Health. While that may be my primary focus, Mental Health Advocacy in general is my passion.
With that being said, let’s get back to the kiddos.
Recently in the news we have seen that more and more children are completing suicide yes, I said completing and not committing.
But why? We as adults often believe that childhood is so easy and there is nothing in a child’s life that can “be that bad”. But how do we know? Are we talking to them daily? Do our children trust us enough to tell us when things are “getting that bad”?
Though my daughter is aware of the work I do in the mental health community, somehow, she was still afraid to tell me what was happening. She felt her life was “that bad”. Bad enough that on a Monday morning, I received a phone call from my daughter’s counselor. My daughter has 2 distinctive marks on her wrist from her cutting (causing bodily harm to take the pain away from what’s going on in her life). Though her home life is “good” her school life was not. She was being teased from “Big Breast B!%$#” to “Black B!%sh” to other phrases as an adult I wouldn’t even pronounce. Did I mention that she’s only 13? Yes, you read that correctly, 13-year-old girls are cruel.
Before I received the call, I KNEW she was fine! We laughed, joked and smiled all while she was screaming inside. This changed my perspective. Children these days are going through a lot of emotional changes. Children also are amid extreme bullying. When I was younger, bullying happened at school and your home was your safe zone. Unfortunately, children are now faced with cyber-bullying and it follows them everywhere. Sadly, because they aren’t able to escape, often suicide happens…
TALK TO THEM. Even when they may think you’re lame, TALK TO THEM…when they seem annoyed TALK TO THEM…When they seem OK, TALK TO THEM, TALK TO THEM, TALK TO THEM
I’m leaving you with this;
- Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
- Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12.
- Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs
Do’s and Don’ts
Though you may be shocked and overwhelmed, it is important to try to stay relaxed. By remaining calm, you are creating a comfortable atmosphere for the person who is suicidal to open up to you and reach out for your help.
Be prepared to talk about suicide
Four out of five completed suicides gave clear warning signs before the attempt. While death is an uncomfortable subject for many people, it is important to be able to talk about it openly and honestly. There should be no fear in talking to young people about suicide.
Do not promise confidentiality
Though an individual may ask you to guarantee confidentiality, try to avoid making this promise, and be prepared to break it if you do. Keeping a child’s promise is not as important as saving a child’s life.
Don’t fall into the “Not My Child Syndrome”
It is all too easy to think of suicide as a tragedy that happens to other families. We want to believe that children who experience “suicidal thought” come from dysfunctional families that may have a history of family violence and drug abuse. It’s important to understand that suicide crosses all racial, economic, social and ethnic lines.
Don’t be scared
We have the belief that if we mention suicide to someone that they will attempt suicide.This is a myth. You could be saving a life.
TALK TO THEM!
Until next time…