March 9, 2010

teen suicide...

this post is not going to be a happy one.
i'm not going to talk about gardening or my kids or farm life.

i've been thinking a lot today about a very serious issue.  in the last month 3 teens in our area have ended their own lives.  3.  in a very small community.
i have several men in my family who are in law enforcement...they have given me an insight to suicide that i didn't have before.  most of the time when you see that obituary in the paper for a young person that has no cause of death, it is a suicide or an overdose.  look at your paper for a two week span and you will be shocked by what you see between the lines of those obituaries.  i know i used to be.

now i'm going to share a little about myself.  it may be tmi and if it is i'm sorry.  maybe it's something i shouldn't share but i'm going to anyway.
the first time i thought about suicide i was in the 5th grade.  i remember it clearly.  after that any time that life became too much for me that was the thought that i had.  i always thought that everyone had thoughts of suicide until i married the big guy and he told me that he had never thought about doing that.  ever.  that was one of the first clues that maybe my thought process was a little off.  after a few years of marriage and some seriously crazy moments in my life i sought out a professional.  she diagnosed me with bi-polar depression. i had something that could explain why things weren't always right in my head.  don't worry, i'm not like they portray people on law & order that are bi-polar.  i would never push anyone in front of a subway...promise.  i also don't have serious manic episodes like some people do.  most of mine comes out in depression.  deep, dark, dank depression...luckily there is medication.  i will be on it for the rest of my life but i am so grateful that it is there for me to take.
you may ask why i am telling you this.  to the outside world i looked like a normal teenager.  i had problems that those close to me knew about but to the outsider i looked like a happy girl.  they didn't know that at times suicide ruled my thoughts.  i thought about it all the time at certain points in my life.  i still do at times.  luckily i have a husband and sister who i can openly talk to about it.  it took a lot of years for me to be able to do that but i can now.  i know deep in my heart that it really isn't an option.  i could never do that to the people in my life.  i love them too much even if i don't love myself sometimes.

these kids in the last month have brought to mind my teenage years.  the despair and aloneness that you can feel as a 16 or 17 year old.  you feel as though no-one understands, or that the pain that you are feeling is just too much for you to handle.
what can we do as parents, aunts, uncles, church leaders, etc... to help kids know that suicide is not the answer to the problems that they are having?  i think that the main key is open dialogue.  there are so many ads on tv about talking to your children about drugs and alcohol but not many about suicide.  yet it is the 3rd leading cause of death in people 15-24 and the 4th in kids from 10-14.  i think it is so uncomfortable for people to talk about.  as a parent you don't want to ever think that your child would do that.  and most of them will never even think of it.  but just in case they do wouldn't you want to know that you had prepared them for those thoughts?
let them know that there are so many people who love them.  that would help them, listen to them, get them help.  make sure they think about leaders or relatives or even help lines that will be there for them if they don't feel like they can come to you.  make sure they know that they can come to you and you will deal with it calmly and without judgement.
the thing can be something small that can bring these thoughts to mind...something small to us as adults.  i know as a teenager you feel things so much more because you haven't learned yet how to deal with the emotions of life.  and life is happening much earlier with our children.  so that thing that seems small to us can actually be huge to them.  just food for thought.  mainly i just wanted to tell you that it can be anyone.  it isn't just the kid who dresses all in black.  it's the football player who doesn't feel like he's living up to everyone's expectations.  the kid who maybe doesn't have the friends that he wishes he did.  the girl who has lost a friend or boyfriend.  the child next door whose parents are getting divorced or are abusive.  the young girl that is dealing with mental illness that isn't anyone you would think would be. you just never know.  prepare them, talk to them.  not just your own kids but the kids that you teach in church, the kids that seem to always be at your house.  i'm not saying take on the suicide talk with kids that aren't your own, but make sure they know that you truly love them and care what about what is going on in their lives.  make sure your kids know that you care and are there not just for them but for their friends if needs be.  i know that i have had many meaningful talks with girls in young women's about things that i could relate to that their parents couldn't.

i don't know if any of this makes sense but teen suicide is a tragedy and in my opinion it happens way too much.  sometimes no matter what you do it will happen anyway.  one of the kids who recently died in our community was a happy kid with a great family and a promising future.  you just can't see any warning signs sometimes.  i found a good website that gives some warning signs and ways that you can help.  again, i think the most important thing is communication.  open, non-judgemental, non-accusatory communication.  even if you think your kid would never even think about it.  they might.  i want to make it clear that i know that ultimately it is their decision and no matter what you do you can't make that decision for them.  i just want it to be something that you think about.

thanks for letting me get that out...

**if you want to leave a comment that is more helpful information or you want to share something then please do....i don't want to talk about me though.  i just wanted to tell you that so that you could understand why i feel the way i do about it and that it can be anyone, anytime.   so even though you love me and think i'm wonderful ;D, i'd rather keep it about the subject today ok? 


Mindy said...

Hugs, Marci. I love you, and am so glad that you are here to share your wisdom and love with everyone.

girlsmama said...

When I was teaching we had a 10 year old commit suicide. I was shocked. It's suspected it may have been accidental, but the actions were not. I think he had no idea of the permanence. I appreciate your open candor as this topic so often is hushed up. Thanks for encouraging us to talk to our kids about it, I'm going to do that.

Kristina P. said...

Marci, thank you so much for sharing.

We will often get kids in our center who seem to be doing well from the outside, and are just brought in for something little, like truancy, but when we dig deeper, find out they are cutting, are depressed, etc.

It really is a larger problem than people think.

The Tolman Family said...

Interesting you bring this subject up. We have had 2 young men commit suicide. One we knew (a cousins son) the other a Grandson to a family in our ward. As Young Mens President in my Ward I hope and pray each Young man knows he is loved by many. I keep them all in my prayers each day. LIFE Is a Great thing.
Thanks Marci for your Friendship.

Callie said...

I have had too many experiences with this happening to people that I have known and cared for.

It is important to talk to the people in your life. Even if it is simple, taking time to let the people in your life know that you are there for them to and care for them can make a world of difference.

Starting young and talking to your children about there feelings will also help them to talk to others and be there for other people.

Thanks for bringing some awareness to this.

Britny Hill said...

I love you to death. I am so grateful I have you as a sister in law. You're REAL!!

Tanya said...

What a post very true! and this had to take some guts to post this...but thank you for doing it! Unfortunately I know of one of these tragedies. Kam knows one of them. So so sad!!! and I completely agree with you. Communication is the key. That is the one thing that we can all do...just talk talk talk. I had a good talk with Kam when this happened. I feel so bad for these families...what a tragedy.

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