There are a few things I rarely do on this blog, because I don't want this blog to turn into that kind of blog, I want this blog to be fun, with fun tips and interesting things I do with my family. It's a way they can look back and see what happened over the years and stuff. So I don't usually post anything political even though I have very strong views, and I don't usually post anything about those harder subjects either that parents have to face. But today I'm going to talk about Suicide because it Sucks!!
On Monday there were 4 suicides in Red Deer. Four families lost loved ones who were close to them, four families now have to face the reality of a world where that loved is not here. And it SUCKS!! It sucks when you don't know the families because if you are human you can empathize and you know they are going through hell right now. It sucks even more when your kids were acquaintances and you have to talk with them about why someone would make that choice and how they can offer help to friends if they see them in that position ever again. It sucks even more when you know the family because they are friends of yours who has lost someone to suicide. It sucks when it's your friend, it sucks when it's your partner, it SUCKS!!!
And the truth is it can happen to anyone and it can happen for any reason. When you are in that deep, dark place there is no exit strategy unless you have already built one in and sometimes that doesn't happen. It's no one's fault, and you can "should" yourself to death but that won't change what's happened. So don't dwell on those things that can't change this horrible ordeal, that will only make it worse, suicide sucks and it's indicative of a bigger issue. Sometimes people attempt and it's a cry for help and sometimes there is no attempt and loved ones are left with a million plus questions and scenarios running through their minds. I've no other word for it Suicide sucks!!!
But what can we do about it? How do we help those we don't even know are calling for help? How do we help those that shut us out, or have acted out time and time again and we are at our wits end with them?
I don't have a magic solution that will help everyone. I don't have the answer, and as much as I wish I did, because trust me I wish I did, I wish I knew what to teach people to help everyone from choosing Suicide, I just don't. All I have are suggestions that come from my common sense.....they aren't fail proofs but I guess they are things that would help based on my training and education.
First I've taken A.S.I.S.T training for 6 years now. That stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, it's a very good course but it can be quite emotional. I've also taken some university counselling classes for my teaching degree. I'm by no means an expert, but if my writing this blog can help one person help another person, then this is worth it.
So here are some things I do that I've learned in communicating with kids.
1) Listen to what your kids are saying and what they AREN'T saying. Sometimes what they aren't saying is much more profound than what they are saying. Don't interrupt your kids when they are talking and telling you things, especially if it's a question you've asked. Let silence be your friend and the quiet prompter that encourages your kid to talk. If you are always rushing them through their conversations they won't share fully, they will only share with you what they think you want to hear.
2) Invade their space! It's your house, they just live there. You can go into their room from time to time, knock if they are in their and might be changing, but at the end of the day it's your house if you need to look in the room to figure out what's going on with them, to get a hint as to what their life is like when you aren't around then do it. Yes some parents are going to say that's an invasion of their privacy, my response is so what. So what! It's my house and they are MY kid, I need to know what's going on so I can help them!! If I don't snoop and they aren't talking to me how am I going to find out.
3) Spend quality time with your kids. I don't care what it is, but you should spend time with your kids each day. Maybe it's supper, maybe it's watching a show, maybe it's going for a drive, cooking supper. We are all busy, but giving your kids 15 mins of undivided attention does wonder for the kids. I worked with a program called FAST (Families and Schools Together) that taught parents to spend 15 mins with their kids each night. The feedback from the families was that it improved their relationships with their kids immensely and it helped them learn to have positive interactions with them. We are all busy, there is so much in this world that is vying for our attention, sometimes we have to shut out the outside and just focus on the people that matter. This 15 mins of quality time can change as the kids get younger. I read to my littlest ones, but with my teenager, we cook together and then we also watch certain shows together on a regular basis, I would never watch some shows without him.
4) Ask the hard questions. If you suspect, or fear or even want to know what they know about it ask them. Kids aren't dumb and if you aren't asking they aren't sharing. Don't think it can't happen to you, because it can happen to anyone. And do not think that by asking you are putting the idea in their head, if they aren't thinking it when you ask they won't be afterwards, and if they are, it happened before you asked and their are other questions you are going to need to follow up on. You are the parent or adult you need to be willing to have these conversations. If you aren't they won't think it matters. You can't put your head in the sand!!!
5) In the end if the person you are talking to says they are suicidal, don't condemn them! Don't tell them they shouldn't feel that way! Don't talk to them about all they would be leaving behind! Be present with them, be there in that moment with them and then work on a plan to get them to the next day or get them to someone who is a professional to help them. Not everyone is going to tell you, not everyone will talk about it, but if you aren't willing to talk to them they won't talk to you. Make a plan, and give them control. So if you are struggling with helping them through this, due to emotions or it being a foreign concept for you to wrap your head around don't just thrust them on a stranger without their approval, let them choose the counsellor, let them make choices is different options. If you don't know how to offer those choices call the kids help line, a suicide hotline, Health link. Get help for you, but be honest with them too, let them know you are struggling, let them see that you are scared, be authentic. you don't have to have all the answers, but you have to be willing to look for them.
These are some other helpful websites you could go check for more information!! I hope this helps and I hope that anyone dealing in this issue finds peace!! My heart goes out to anyone who's been affected by Suicide!