Most of us are aware of the two local girls who ended their young lives on a Philadelphia train track last week. As spectators, we have the grace of an internal circuit breaker. Its’ purpose is to save us from the unspeakable pain devouring the family and friends of these girls.
Tragic events always put us at a crossroads. We can ignore this topic, keep it in the shadows and feed the terror it triggers in all of us….or we can find the courage to dig deeper and not let the deaths of these two girls be in vain.
Starting the conversation is the most difficult part….so I will give you some help on how to talk about such a scary/taboo topic.
Here are some important points:
Teens are especially vulnerable to suicidal impulse. They do not see suicide as hurting themselves. They see it as a way to stop hurt.
A sense of “pseudo adulthood” can create a barrier to acknowledging they are in trouble. Any previous trauma can make the adolescent far more vulnerable.
What to do: Be mindful about how you respond to difficult moments, whether it is spilled milk or a fender bender. It will sway your child in the future about your ability to handle heavy emotional stuff.
Negative emotions are very strong. Be sure your child has a way to process them. Many of us are uncomfortable with anger or deep sadness and are relieved to avoid them. Teens don’t always have that luxury.
If your child expresses a wish to end their life, take it very seriously. Seek out professional help. It could not only save their life, but the life of a friend.
It has been said that all of the darkness in the universe cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. Suicide occurs in that darkness. We need to our courage to keep our children in the light……. so they can find their way.