According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, suicide is the second major cause of death for children and teens. My blog this week is on this subject because I would like to educate more and more adults about this dangerous issue and help protect our children from the belief that suicide is a viable way to end their problems.
According to the Academy, young children who commit suicide typically do so impulsively because of negative emotions. For adolescents, suicide is usually associated with depression and other factors such as bullying and exposure to violence.
Warning signs may start with a child saying such things as “I wish I was dead.” The Academy urges us to be vigilant about all warning signs, including the following: changes in eating or sleeping habits; frequent or pervasive sadness; withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities; frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue; decline in the quality of schoolwork; and preoccupation with death and dying.
In an excellent online article When One Teen’s Suicide Turns Into a Cluster at the website www.thefamilycoach.com, Dr. Catherine Pearlman stresses the fact that too little is being done to effectively combat suicides. For example, just having suicide awareness programs in schools is not enough. She suggests some critical changes that individuals as well as a community as a whole should make to fully address the issues surrounding suicide. These include:
1. Parents and schools must stop putting so much pressure on children to succeed at all costs.
2. Schools need to stop sending grades to parents on a daily basis.
3. Children should be taught that “perfect” is a fallacy and even the idea of striving to be at close to perfection should not be the goal.
4. Schools need crisis intervention plans as well as prophylactic plans for addressing suicide.
5. Parents need to assume that their children are exposed to many risky things, such as drugs, alcohol, vaping, sex, porn, violence, social isolation, bullying and much more. “Talk to your kids even if they don’t talk back. Talk in the car, over dinner or at night with the lights out before bed. Text these conversations if that’s the only way. Have the conversations before you think you have to. Your kids are going through so much more than you think. Get in there and help them.”
6. Love your children no matter what.
No longer should we downplay our children’s suicidal tendencies. Vigilance is key.
To learn more, please go to the following links: