I attended Richmond Moms Blog’s Responding to Hard Topics event focused on the series 13 Reasons Why. I went to the event not thinking it really had anything to do with me and my family’s situation. I’m a mom of three kids 8 and under. My kids don’t even know suicide is a word, they most certainly have never seen the show, and neither have I.
In fact, this topic is extremely relevant for anyone with children.
Brandon Farbstein, TEDxRVA speaker, and Julie Best Wilcox, LCSW of Thriveworks Chesterfield, joined us at Optimum Ed to discuss these hard topics. Brandon shared his very real and raw testimony of his first-hand experience with cyber-bullying. Julie led us through a discussion on signs of depression, risk factors, and tips for suicide prevention.
According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14 and the second among persons aged 15-34 years.
It’s important to understand the signs of depression which include, but are not limited to: pulling back from social activity, spending a lot of time alone and online, no eye contact, sexually acting out or pornography, decreased academic performance, numb to consequences, changes of friends or dating partners, substance abuse, unexplained medical conditions, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression.
Here are Julie’s 5 top tips for parents:
- Be a safe place.
No judgment; no extreme reactions, fear, shame, or consequences when your child shares with you; differentiate between the child and the choice.
- Ask questions.
“What do you know about…” or “How would I know if…”
Empathize, don’t interrupt, embrace silence, put away your phone, choose a neutral place to have the discussion (not your child’s bedroom)
- Be honest.
Don’t lie about your experience, be authentic. If you don’t have the answer, it’s ok to research and table the discussion until you have the answer.
Communication with our kids begins when they are old enough to speak.
So open the lines of conversation. Instead of asking closed-ended, yes or no, questions, try these:
- What are your dreams?
- What would happen if…?
- How would you…?
- What do you hear me saying?
- Do you have any questions for me?
The moral of the story: we need to communicate with our kids.
Need some ideas on how to incorporate more conversations with your kids? From family meals together, engaging in electronics with your kids, and watching their shows with them to designated family nights, bedtime routines, and family community service projects. Spending quality time with your kids can help to open up the lines of communication.
Did you know that if you text 741741 when you’re feeling depressed, suicidal, or just needing someone to talk to, a crisis counselor will text with you? Many people do not like talking on the phone. It’s a free service in the U.S. that’s been available since 2013.
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255