We are living in a time of instant gratification, lack of face to face interactions, complex relationships, and excessive expectations leaving parents emotionally bankrupt when interacting with their own children. Most anything we want or need we can get in a short period of time and when we have to wait for anything we become frustrated and sometimes angry. Which causes employers to expect more from employees to meet the needs of their clients in a timely fashion. Employees work longer hours and are expected to be available to their employer by phone or email even when they are not on the clock. We rarely know our neighbors or spend quality time with our friends or family. Even when we do, electronics interrupt or steal the time from our loved ones.
Children and teens are not exempt from the pressures of this fast paced culture. They are expected to perform well at school, succeed in sports activities, adjust to blended or complex family issues and pick up the slack of chores left by overwhelmed parents. In addition, bullying has become more prevalent with social media and parents are not as accessible to their children because they are trying to meet the expectations of the current culture. This leaves many children feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. Their behavior and attitude begin to change in many ways and this leaves parents asking ‘Is my child suicidal?’. Which is an excellent question considering “Suicide is a major problem affecting youth; it is the 3rd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.” American Psychological Association.
Suicide warning signs:
- Excessive sadness or moodiness.
- Lack of interest in things they use to enjoy.
- Use/abuse of substance alcohol
- Talking about death or suicide.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Dramatic mood changes
- Trouble sleeping
- Dangerous or self harm behavior (reckless driving, unsafe sex, etc… )
- Secluding their self
- Recent trauma or life crisis
- Feelings of rage or uncontrollable anger
- Calmness after a period of depression
Most parents want the best for their children, yet lack adequate resources to provide the basic needs (food,clothing,shelter) or more complex needs (safety, structure, stability, and attention). They have to be creative in meeting the needs of their children. Being proactive in suicide prevention is the key.
Proactive steps for parents include but are not limited to the following:
- Provide a healthy, stable, structured, and consistent environment.
- Listen to your child attentively (without electronics and unconditionally. For example: I will still love you no matter what you tell me. There may be a consequence, yet I will not stop loving you.
- Spend uninterrupted quality time with your child.
- If your child reports being bullied, take it seriously and take action.
- Help your child find balance in their life. Anything in excess is not good. (Too many activities. Too much social media, video games, or television.)
- Get your child help if they are struggling in any one area (academic achievement, peer relationships, physical issues, etc.)
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your teen about suicide.
Rhonda Schmitzer, a mother who has lost a son to suicide in 2010 states the following:
“Teens must understand that suicide is NOT, nor EVER will be the answer. They must understand that they can talk about their bad moments. Their bad days. It’s OK to have them. It’s OK to not be OK. But they must find someone to talk to.
They also should know that their words to other teens can be destruction that trigger actions (suicide). It is important for them to make sure their words trigger love actions.”
Last but not least —- Get help right away if you suspect your child may be suicidal. Trust your intuition.