I have come up with my Part 2 to From Devastated to Driven Part 1. Suicide prevention should be discussed in schools, period. There are pros and cons to everything; medicines, books, movies, video games, standardized tests. To take the stance, talking about suicide could lead to suicide, is not an answer anymore. We have to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks of a prevention program.
Why I Want Suicide Prevention Spoken About in School
My sister’s death has ignited something in me, a drive like I’ve never seen. After reading numerous article on youth suicide, I’ve decided to act. I’m currently in the research phase.
I really don’t know when my attention turned to the kids attempting and completely suicide. It seemed like every time I opened my internet browser, a story about a child’s suicide came up.
The fact of the matter is kids’ young minds will soak up any information we’re giving them. I know, you’re thinking, my kid doesn’t listen or remember anything but you’re wrong. Kids know, realize, listen, and retain a lot more than we think. I have big ideas on how to help kids retrain their brains, to believe in themselves, to love themselves, to forgive themselves for their perceived shortcomings or mistakes, they feel they’ve made.
My sister’s suicide in 2015 obviously rocked the foundation my life sits on. Losing my best friend has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I spent many days and nights in bed, hysterical, screaming “WHY.” Almost 2 years later, I still do that on some days.
Other days, I thank her for changing my life. She literally altered the framework of my life. I’ve never been more ready for change-not only to change myself but to work to change so many who feel broken.
Evolution of Grief
You see, when you’re grieving, you don’t pay attention to anything. You stay in your pajamas all day (which I usually do anyway), you cry so much you’re eyes won’t open, and then one day you get up. You’re pissed and ready to throat punch someone, anyone, to take the pain away. Then you realize, you can use that anger for something good and that’s what I’m going to do…….
My New Plan
I’ve spoken to 10 different kids (ages 9-17), who go to ten different schools, and not 1 of those schools offer a formal suicide prevention program. Or if they do, the student don’t know about them. I’ll have an extensive post about this coming up next week As of now, I have a lot of work to do. I’ve found numerous suicide prevention programs that I could potentially pitch to my school system. To be honest, I don’t think any of them are promising.
…..But What I Really Want To Do
I really want to become a motivational speaker for kids, teaching them not only suicide prevention but motivation and self esteem exercises. Sounds crazy, right?
I don’t think so.
I want to be the Gabby Bernstein of the 7th grade. Or the Tony Robbins of the 12th grade. I have so many ideas spinning around my head. I want to write and create my OWN suicide prevention program!!!
Sounds nuts, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.
I sincerely believe I can accomplish this goal. I believe in my heart that I can change the way these kids feel about themselves.
I want to pursue a career in life coaching. I know many of the kids I talked with, feel uncomfortable talking to their parents about certain issues. In some cases, the parents are the problem, in the children’s opinion.
I want to help these families. I want to be the voice on the other end of the line, that kids feel comfortable talking to.
Then I want to speak to kids about self-esteem, confidence, changing their mindset, realizing their dreams.
I want to help kids know their worth, know they are original and so very relevant to this life.
Write a Book
Also, I want to write a book. THE BOOK on how to prevent suicide in children.
THE BOOK parents turn to when in need. Sort of like Dr. Spock’s book back in the day.
I’ve never considered myself a writer. I was always a math girl (still am) but something has shifted in me. It’s like my soul flows through my fingers when I write.
I Don’t Know How Yet…..
Be the change you want to see in this world. All I do, all day, is think about that quote. Something has to be done, we have to say “NO MORE.” We need to do something about the epidemic that has become youth suicide.
I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish all this stuff but I know I will. As Marie Forleo says, “Everything is Figure Outtable!!!”
I Need Your Help
Now I have some questions for you, my loyal readers. Does your child’s school have a formal suicide prevention program….not one they created after a tragedy happened-one that has been in place and being spoke about? If so, can you tell me a little about it.
Also, can you please share this post, so other parents could tell me about any other programs they know about. Thank you so much.
Scared, anxious, overwhelmed, alone, stupid-these are just some of the emotions our kids feel every day. Youth suicide is an epidemic in this country. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth 10-18 years old. To put that into perspective, more kids die from suicide than from Cancer, Heart Disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, and influenza COMBINED. We, as a nation, need to figure out why kids are killing themselves and how we can help them.
The Disturbing Statistics
(Data is based on CDC Statistics) In 2014, 2,262 kids, age 9-19, successfully committed suicide. 428 of those kids were 9-14 (middle school age.) What’s even more shocking is in that same year, there were 120,990 incidents of self harm in kids age 9-19. 36,857 of those incidents involved 9-14 year olds. These statistics are shocking and heartbreaking at the same time. Something has to be done….
Why Are Kids Killing Themselves?
There are many reasons why a child would end their own lives. Some of the reasons may be:
underlying psychiatric condition (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
drug or alcohol abuse
feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness (a burden on their family)
sexual orientation (feeling like people won’t accept them for who they are)
physical or sexual abuse
Is Bullying a Direct Cause of Suicide in Children?
There are a number of small and large steps schools could take to start preventative actions.
Smaller steps would include teachers greeting their students by name and engaging them in talk about extracurricular activities they enjoy.
A sense of connection with a caring adult at school can provide support to kids who are having issues socially and emotionally.
School Based Programs
School based programs such as U OK? Friends Ask! Suicide Prevention Program are peer based programs. Students take the lead, with a teacher, administrator, or parent who volunteers, in implementing a campaign against suicide for their school. The National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS) helps school communities with resources to recognize warning signs, help friends in need, and know where to go for help.
There is no cost for the program but they do ask that you run a fundraiser where the program gets half the proceeds.
This is just an example of one program that could be implemented at schools to prevent youth suicide. There are multiple strategies, manuals, tool kits, fact sheets, etc. that can be searched for in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
I know most parents teach their kids to be kind and accepting but lets talk about it a little.
Talk to your children about kindness and compassion. Let them know that if they have a problem, they can come to you, without fear of you flipping out and calling the other kid’s mother. Instill in them the philosophy, you never know what someone else is going through. That child may be suffering from a learning disability and that’s why he can’t read as fast as you. Or maybe that girl’s father lost his job, so she doesn’t have nice clothes to wear to school. Maybe that kid’s parents just got divorced and he’s feeling scared, and alone, and lost. That one snide remark could put one of these kids over the edge.
Tell your children: Don’t be afraid to be the change…..Invite the new kid to sit at your lunch table; offer to tutor that boy in reading; tell that little girl that you like her outfit (even if it is 2 sizes too big.)
On The Other Hand
Help your child learn coping skills. If, hopefully it never happens, but if you become the butt of someone’s joke at school, shake it off. Remind them daily, the only opinion that matters, is the opinion they have of themselves. They create their own destiny. We can change our emotions, that kid making fun of you is the one with the problem. Maybe they have trouble learning, so they lash out at the first person they see. It could be that they are going through something at home, and they don’t know how to express their emotions, and have no one to talk to about it, so they act like they hate everyone. Teach your child not to worry about what other kids say about them. Tell them they are beautiful and special just the way they are.
Meditation for Kids
Meditation is a great tool to use to bring the mind back into focus, calm emotions, and ease tension. Teaching kids some quick and simple meditation practice could help with the daily anxiety the school day brings. Here are easy meditations to teach your child.
Have your child breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and then release for 5 seconds, Complete this exercise 4 times (for a total of 1 minute-hence the name) Have them picture the perfect school day filled with happiness, not too much work, and acceptance.
I’ve learned that it’s all about mindset. If you go into a situation thinking you’re going to fail, you’re probably going to fail. Go into a situation with the best possible outcome in your mind. Getting an A on a test, sitting with a great bunch of kids at lunch, having a nice walk home, etc. and it will probably go down that way.
Peace Begins With You
(This is my favorite, I taught it to my girls who are 8, 9, 11, and they love it and use it all the time)
Kids can do this exercise anywhere and parents can do when their kids are getting on their nerves LOL. I like to have my daughters do it while they’re studying. Then when it’s time to take the test, they can do it and it helps them remember what they studied!! It can ease anxiety, bring your mind back to focus, and it’s fun to think up different mantras so….
1st gently press your thumb against your index finger, then against your middle finger, then your ring finger, and last press your thumb against your pinkie.
When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE
As you touch your middle finger, say: BEGINS
When you touch your ring finger, say: WITH
And as you touch your pinkie, say: ME
**Tip-you can say any 4 words you want. My girls and I say I AM PURE LOVE Your family can make up any 4 word mantra.
Even as you’re walking your can be mindful and practice meditation. We all know walking the halls of middle or high school was hard sometimes. You feel self-conscious, anxious, and sometimes even downright scared. Teach your kids these steps to ease their minds as they walk.
Take a deep breathe with each step. Focus on your feet hitting the ground with each step. Think of yourself as more grounded and safe with every step. Imagine their is a beautiful shiny bubble around you-that no bad vibes can penetrate-only pure love and confidence can get in.
Finally, use a your mantra from the Peace Begin With You exercise. Say it in your head as you walk tall and proud.
Take a Tech Break
Gabby says, “One of the main reasons ware so stressed these days is because of technology.” With kid these days, the internet is all they’ve ever known. Between violent video games, cyber bullying, and being able to google anything, kids are constantly surrounded by some device. They don’t go outside to play, they bring their phones to the dinner table, my daughters literally FaceTime each other while they’re in the same house. It’s bananas but here’s what you can do
Tell your kids to take a 5 minute technology break (they will protest, believe me) but explain to them that all their electronic devices could be adding to their stress. Then take a walk with them and, most of all, leave your phone at home too!! If that’s not an option just have them sit on their beds in silence. It sounds crazy but it will be good for their mind to be still, to just BE. Also, have them close their eyes and take a couple deep breaths. While 5 minutes might seem like an eternity, it will help them get more centered.
There is a plethora of reasons why a child would kill themselves. The experts do not believe bullying is the direct cause of youth suicides. They do, however, believe that it is ONE of the many risk factors to look for. I uncovered many ways to implement a suicide prevention program in my community, as a result I fully intend to follow up and ask if I can start a program, right here in my hometown.
Just talking about the subject of youth suicide makes people cringe and uncomfortable but we have to step up. Start early (even elementary school kids should be evaluated and taught proper preventive skill.) Show your kids some of those simple meditations, hopefully, they will like one and use it.
Teach faith and hope. Remind them…….
The most amazing things in life usually happen right at the moment you’re about to give up hope
Please share this article with anyone who you think might need help. My goal is to get as many people as I can, to actively help in preventing youth suicide. When I lost my sister to suicide in 2015, although she was 35, it has sparked something inside of me. No family should go through what we went through. With a lot of effort, I will try to help these kids, one school at a time.
It’s Hard To Stay Positive During a Major Life Change
We all know that feeling-a pit in your stomach, a punch in the gut, or literal pain as you feel your heart breaking.
The feeling of utter overwhelm that comes with a break-up, the loss of someone important to you (whether by death or decision).
Despair, as you hear your boss say, “We have to let you go….”
Or any other major life change that makes you feel like your world is coming to an end. Although, it feels that way now, if you stay positive and believe the world works in mysterious ways, then you just might look at this time in your life as just the beginning.
Here are some ways to stay positive during a major life change.
Put on Music to Ease a Troubled Mind
Put on your favorite music and as Taylor Swift says, “Shake It Off.” I don’t mean some depressing song you listened to when you broke up with your 4th grade boyfriend either. I mean some hard core, bounce around, sweat it off music.
Listen to something that reminds you of a good time in your life. Music can take me back to some of the best times in my life, times of joy, and smiles, and laughter. Let it transport you to a positive place.
Exercise the Blues Away
Nothing helps clear your mind like working up a sweat. Don’t think, just go-run, walk, jump, skip, yoga-whatever it takes to clear your mind. Making, or accepting, a major life decision is hard, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take a walk and see if it helps give you some clarity on the situation.
A good walk in the woods with my dog is all it takes to clear out the overload and see things more clearly. I definitely feel more positive when I get back.
Read Self Help/Positivity Books-Watch Movies about Positivity
I have never believed in the “power of positive thinking,” until I watched I Am Not Your Guru on Netflix. I was amazed at how straight forward and honest Tony Robbins was. It really inspired me. Some other great books are The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein (this lady is a powerhouse) and Unsinkable by Sonia Ricotti (I saw her free webinar and read her book Unsinkable, it’s life changing.) You feel like your life is falling apart and it might be. These books talk about bouncing back and getting up after you’ve fallen down.
In my case, after my sister died, I was angry, angry at the world, angry at the mental health care system in general. These books showed me, staying positive and trying to find the good in every situation, is the best thing to do.
Lean on Your Friends When You Need Them
Let your friends help, I know it’s hard to relinquish power over certain things your life. Friends are there to help you stay positive when you feel like your life is falling apart.
When my sister died, I called my best friend first, I didn’t even get 4 words out of my mouth before she said “What do you need?” I needed someone to take care of my girls. I had no idea how to tell them that their favorite person in the world just ended her own life. As I drove home that day, pretending everything was great, having Kelly was a gift from God. She was waiting at my doorstep as I pulled up and pretended that she was taking the girls for a wonderful staycation at her house (it was across the street so they were never too far away from me.) My 2 best friends took care of my girls for 4 days. I still lean on them when I need help and they’re always there for me.
Your friends can get you through the worst things in your life, believe me, I know the power of friendship. During a major life change, let them help. Don’t push them away, don’t try to do everything, they love you, and want what’s best for you.
Spend Time With Your Family Who Wants the Best For You
Family is forever. They are there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s amazing how much your family can help you stay positive during a tumultuous time in your life. Talk to your family members, let them know how your feeling, I’m sure your scared or feeling lost. Family can rope you in when you’re starting to go off the rails.
For me, spending time with my girls and, our pal, Tank (our dog) can only bring positive thoughts to mind. Try to find the most positive family member you have and let them know what is happening. They will probably give you some great advice and tell you that there is always a light at the end of tunnel. The light gets brighter as you get more in a positive mindset.
Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart To Stay Positive
Every day, wake up thankful for what you have. It might not be much, but you’re still breathing, and that’s all you need to be doing to practice positivity. Be thankful for the strength to realize what is best for you, and every one involved.
I’ve made a printable gratitude journal page that is undated, so you can print out as many as you want. Date it, write down what you’re thankful for, and read it back to yourself. Even when life gets hard, staying positive and looking at what you have, instead of what you don’t have, keeps your spirits up. At the end of this post, you can receive a FREE Gratitude Journal Printable, when you subscribe to my newsletter.
And Then……….Have Yourself a Good Cry
And then there are those times, you just want to curl up in a ball on your bed and cry. Cry for what was and what could have been. Bawl your eyes out for thinking you were not good enough or smart enough. Weep for the kids in the situation who are going to be devastated. DO IT!!!
Let the river of tears flow, allow yourself to be sad be that brief moment….and then REMEMBER The past is history and the future isn’t written yet. Leave the past behind you. Forgive yourself. Forgive the people who have hurt you. This too shall pass and 5 years from now, you’ll look back on this time in your life as a learning experience. A place you WERE, not a place you ARE. Believe things will get better, and they will, maybe not tomorrow or next week, but things will get better. Be thankful for what you have. Stay positive and believe all things happen for a reason.
Have you recently had a major life change? How did you stay positive during a difficult time in your life?
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