Unfortunately, the issue of teen suicide has crossed our family's path three times in less than a year. On a positive note, there has been only one fatality. Parents I urge you to do the following:
- Talk to your child
- Urge your child to talk to you
- Do whatever you can to make them comfortable talking to you
- Know who your childs' friends are
- Teach your child how to be a good friend
- Know what makes your child happy
- Know what makes your child sad
- Teens are very vulnerable so don't dismiss their mood swings
- Talk to the parents of your childs' friends
- Stress to your child that bullying is unacceptable
- Encourage your child to let someone know if a friend is in trouble
- Look for signs of depression, drop in grades, disinterest in activities
- Pay close attention if your child is friends with someone who has attempted suicide
- Periodically check your child's emails, texts, website searches and Facebook. Do it more often if there is change in their behavior
Yes, I actually said to invade your child's privacy! A child posted on Facebook a goodbye letter to his friends. The letter stated that he was going to die and that he would be in heaven with his friend who committed suicide. His friends were going nuts on Facebook posting pleas for him not to do it. They tried texting him because his post was at 1:30am. These same kids are still wounded from the suicide of a classmate less than a year ago.
A parent sent me a text message because her child told her about the Facebook posting. When I spoke to my daughter about it, she said that she didn't see the post and that she heard that the child was ok. The parent that contacted me also contacted a teacher, who then contacted the school's assistant principal, who contacted the school board and visited the child with a crisis team at summer school. I later talked to the teacher and found out that the child is safe and getting the help that he needs. It takes a village folks!!
These three cases were children who attended the same school last year. "Earlier this year, mental health experts feared a suicide cluster in Lake Forest." Three Lake Forest High School students were killed in train accidents and two of them are believed to be suicide. One expert states that sometimes, suicide can have a ripple effect because kids share their methods on social media sites. If someone hears that someone else has committed suicide, they may feel that they can go through with it too. The third leading cause of death in youths between the ages of 10 and 24 is suicide. According to a CDC report, boys are more likely to die from suicide, but girls are more likely to report attempting suicide. Let's try to save our children and other children by being informed about suicide.
Parents, if you think your child may be in trouble and you don't know what to do, here is a list of websites with phone numbers that you can contact for help.