A young girl I know tried to commit suicide recently. She didn’t succeed, thank God, but it made me think about what makes a child want to commit suicide. Is it getting bullied? A bad grade? Moving from one location to another? The loss of a friend? Parents getting divorced?
It could be ANYTHING. Anything can trigger it. Life is filled with triggers. We, as adults, feel the triggers too. Life will never be perfect, for any of us.
What can we do to help prevent this though? Well, I’m not an expert (but I will recommend a book written by an expert later) but I do know one thing; we need to teach our kids how to feel. In my humble opinion, if our kids knew how to deal with their emotions, they would not be so quick to leave their world behind.
What makes a person lose it, really lose it? Besides having a chemical imbalance, which is a different conversation altogether, most of us have never been taught how to recognize and deal with our emotions.
Do you know how many feelings humans have? A ton! Can you name a handful of them? The basic ones are happy, sad, mad and glad. But there are many, many more. Why do we not know them all?
If we taught our kids at a very young age to recognize exactly how they feel they could;
1. Know that it’s okay to FEEL. Anything and everything. We are nothing but our feelings, after all!
2. Feel safe to communicate with us about their feelings, allowing us to help them work through them, and not feel so alone.
3. Learn how to help themselves for life, and help others cope in an imperfect world.
What I’ve learned is that most people (especially adults) do not even recognize what they’re feeling. They may know that they feel angry or sad, but they never question that anger or sadness. They just react; I need a divorce. I need to move. I need a new job. I need to kill myself. Most of us never dig a little deeper and say; “If there’s more than anger or sadness here, what is it?”
Because if we did, things we don’t want to see would pop up, like fear. Most anger and sadness is fear. Fear of loneliness, fear of rejection, fear of death, etc.
Knowing this puts it all on us. We then have to take responsibility for ourselves. We begin to realize it isn’t our partner, or our friend, or our situation. We are afraid.
But isn’t this a good thing? Because it leaves us in charge of us; the only person who has any real control over us anyway. If we look at that fear, stare it right in its face, it has nowhere to go but out. Once you shine a light on it (your attention) it can’t hide and cycle through every cell of your body, again and again, causing depression, isolation and despair. Or Dis-ease.
I don’t think it’s our fault that feelings aren’t first and foremost in our lives though. I think as kids, most of us were taught to suppress our feelings, or were shamed because of them, especially if we showed anger. And God forbid you told someone you loved them and they didn’t feel the same way!
Situations are going to happen. They’re going to happen to us and they’re going to happen to our kids. We can pretend they won’t, but then we’re just lying to ourselves. The only protection we have is to go within and learn to deal with our emotions.
There’s all kinds of scientific research out there on how our thoughts/feelings create our experiences. And as parents, your feelings create your children’s experience. So get a grip, and then teach your kids how to get a grip. Their life is on the line.
For a wonderful book on understanding your teen and what signs to look for in a suicidal teen read Life Seen Through Your Teen’s Eyes by psychotherapist Suzanne Wirth.
Denise Barry is the author of the children’s picture book What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and Soap On A Rope. She is also an inspirational writer whose work has been featured on various websites and in the best-selling book Watch Her Thrive: Stories of Hope, Courage and Strength. Denise lives in Buffalo, NY. Please visit her website at www.denisebarry.net