There is an open wound that is bleeding… oozing and somehow, few have noticed.
Somewhere in the madness, in the swirl of never-ending information and the inexhaustible melee that frequents social media, are the children.
The kids who are standing on the edge, waiting to choose life or death… as America continues to live and turn a blind eye because of preconceived notions.
The Jason Foundation suggests that on an average day in America, 5400 adolescents attempt suicide. Over the past 20 years, suicide has particularly increased for African American children aged 5-11.
And dissimilar to mass shootings, violence, and other heinous crimes, suicide can be preventable.
While America is arguing over whose life matters, some children are questioning whether life is even worth living.
The desensitized American is no longer acceptable. The stigma and the awkward, embarrassed feelings about mental health must be eradicated. Talk should begin, as we encourage our children to join our conversation.
Ignorance can no longer qualify as justification.
Parents, teachers, and even other children can learn to identify warning signs of suicide. Resources such as Save.org give parents and caregivers information to learn to identify warning signs such as:
- “Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
- Looking for a way to kill oneself;
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
- Talking about being a burden to others…”
IF America can take time to observe our children and really listen.
With innovative Facebook initiatives such as “From Reporting to Supporting,” Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides protocol for adults and children that may encounter a Facebook friend experiencing a “suicidal crisis”, and then prompts the user to report that post as containing “suicidal content”. The user is then given further instruction to help support his or her friend.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline also provides 24-hour access to trained counselors by their “Click to Chat” option, or simply phoning in at 1-800-273-TALK.
IF America will not only observe and listen, but also learn to use these vital tools.
And what if America would rediscover our “it takes a village” mentality, and get to know our neighbors in our community?
The American Psychiatric Association suggests that knowledge of risk factors can help prevent suicide. Such risk factors include:
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- A history of suicide in the family
- Substance misuse
- Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
- Access to lethal means (e.g., keeping firearms in the home)
IF America will allow neighbors to share their stories of pain openly, and without judgement.
America’s children spend much of their day in school. The Jason Foundation provides FREE professional development for educators in several states. Their modules include information about risk factors, as well as how to talk with students dealing with mental health issues or contemplating suicide. They also provide curriculum to teach students ways to help prevent suicide. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center also provides several free on-line courses to help educators and other helping professionals with developing suicide prevention programs, as well as offers certain Continuing Education Units for health professionals.
Educators, health-care workers, social workers, counselors, and even law enforcement are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse. America’s suicide rates might decrease, if for suicidal thoughts, they were required to do the same.
Maybe America’s parents have wanted to start the conversation about suicide, but simply did not know how. Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, as well Helpguide.org and 700Childrens, suggest ways to approach children and adults, questions to ask, and even gives suggestions of what NOT to say.
Maybe if America will put an equal portion of “conversation” and “empathy” on our plates, and serve it with a slice of additional mental health funding, suicide will never again be an option for our children.
***The above information is intended to be strictly educational, and is not a substitute for medical, professional training. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or needs help, contact the National SuicidePrevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. ***