On this mother’s day weekend, we feel the love we so selflessly give every day. Our kids bring home their homemade cards, with their little hand prints or flowers they drew for us. We go to brunch and get pampered for our one day out of the year. But some mothers won’t be receiving homemade cards or extra hugs because their child isn’t here anymore. They lost their child to the epidemic that is spreading through this country and the world. They lost their babies to suicide. Today, I will be remembering women who lost their babies to suicide.
Cornelia Reynolds, lost her 8 year old son, Gabriel to suicide in January of 2017. In a surveillance video, released by his school, you can see Gabriel being assaulted and knocked unconscious. This incident happened 2 days before his suicide. Gabriel laid there for over 5 minutes, being kicked and poked by other boys, before any adult comes.
When help finally comes, instead of contacting an ambulance, the school nurse had Cornelia pick Gabriel up from school, telling her that he fainted. Later that evening, Gabriel began vomiting, so he was taken to the hospital where they said he had stomach virus (neither Ms. Reynolds nor the ER doctor had any knowledge of what transpired in the bathroom that day.)
2 days later Gabriel hanged himself with a necktie in his home. In a despicable act, the school takes no culpability, stating that they “didn’t know what happened in the bathroom.” ??? How is that possible? GO watch the surveillance footage that I just watched and you’ll see what happened, Carson Elementary School and the Cincinnati School District are heinous human beings. Period (but that’s a post for another day.)
Today, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Cornelia for the loss of her only son. My heart breaks for her
Tricia Norman, lost her 12 year old daughter, Rebecca to suicide in 2013. After enduring over a year of bullying and cyberbullying, Tricia pulled Rebecca out of her elementary school to home school her. Rebecca had switched schools and Tricia believed her daughter was happy there. She had no idea that the girls Rebecca had a problem with at her old school had taken to the Internet to torture her daughter.
Rebecca left for school on Monday morning but never got there. Tricia reported Rebecca missing at 7 p.m., having never received a call from the automated system at the school telling her that Rebecca wasn’t there. Deputies found Rebecca’s body at 2:25 a.m.
Tricia, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss and I will remember you on this mother’s day and every day.
Katrina Goss lost her 11 year old son, Tysen to suicide, in April of 2017. After returning home from school on March 14th, Tysen seemed happy and proud that he went to his tutoring that day without being reminded. Katrina baked for him as a reward. Tysen went to his room after dinner.
Goss went to say goodnight to Tysen around 10 p.m. and found his door locked. She opened it with her key but didn’t see her son anywhere-she thought he was playing a trick on her. Katrina found her son hanging in his closet. She tried to pick him up while screaming for her older son to call 911. Paramedics were able to revive Tysen but he succumbed to his injuries 3 weeks later.
Goss stated that evening Tysen was texting someone who was using someone else’s Snapchat account. This person told Tysen his girlfriend had died. No one told him it was a prank. Katrina stated that her son died because of a “twisted, sick joke,” and I agree with her.
Katrina, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Please know I am thinking of you today and everyday.
Jane Clementi lost her 18 year old son, Tyler to suicide in 2010. Tyler had been a victim of a disgusting invasion of privacy when his roommate at Rutgers University taped him during an intimate situation. He then invited other students to view it. Tyler found out about the incident and that his roommate was planning on doing it again.
Several days later, Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
Jane started the Tyler Clementi Foundation which was created to raise awareness and prevent bullying. The Tyler Clementi Foundation is a non-profit organization working to end online and offline bullying, harassment, and humiliation.
Happy Mother’s Day Jane. I am so very sorry for your loss
And last, but certainly the most important one to me, my Mom, Sue. She lost her daughter, my sister, Jessie to suicide in 2015. My sister was suffering from postpartum depression. She was not monitored properly and ended her life in August of 2015.
Happy Mother’s Day Mommy. I love you so much. Thank you for being so strong and taking such good care of the girls and I.
To all the Moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day. Hold your children a little tighter today as you remember the mother’s who have lost their babies to suicide.
By now every parent in the world has heard of Netflix’s, 13 Reasons Why and everyone has some sort of opinion, whether good, bad, or indifferent. I’m not going to tell you what is “good” for your child to watch. Good and bad play no part in what the grand scheme of the show is trying to show. Was it graphic…yes…suicide is graphic. Did it blame other people and not talk about mental health…yes…but sometimes after what happened to a girl like Hannah, anxiety and depression creep in.
All this is not the point.
The fact is, certain shows or movie or video game or even commercials aren’t “good” or “bad” for your child. It’s how those things are explained to your child that matters.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about “13 Reasons Why.”
Some Background First
As many people who read my blog know, I lost my sister to suicide in 2015. Her death has sparked something in me. After constantly reading about youth suicide in the news, I’ve recently made it my mission to have a formal suicide prevention program in every school in America. I also want to include coping skills, mindset makeovers, and a “caring adult” (where every child will have and name a trusted adult they can turn to in times of crisis) aspect to those programs.
Here are a few tips on how to talk to your kids about “13 Reasons Why.” Even if you don’t allow your child to watch the show, they are going to watch it at a friend’s house, or hear enough about it to be confused. Instead of being up in arms about the airing of the show, be up in arms about the premise of the show. The reality is, kids are killing themselves and, in some cases, other kids are to blame. Just give me the benefit of the doubt and read further.
Words DO hurt
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can sometimes kill me. Talk to your children about the power of words. As adults, we know that words can be said in anger, that can never be taken back-and they hurt-BAD. Instill in your child the belief, “Don’t say anything to another child, you wouldn’t want said back.”
On the other hand
Explain to your child, no matter what anyone says about them, believing in yourself & having the confidence to know you’re amazing-are the most important traits to have. This confidence is what is going to get you through your day. Try to explain to them (I say try, because they are not going to believe you)-this will not last forever.
Middle school doesn’t last forever
High school doesn’t last forever
Things can change-things will change-just give life a chance
Whether it’s a girl touching your hair, to a boy snapping your bra-it is not ok for someone to touch you. It is not acceptable and should not be tolerated by the child, the teacher, the parents, or the school system. Talk to your child about having a trusted adult they can go to, if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about things like this.
And God forbid, someone forces themselves on your child…..
My children know who their trusted adults are and they know how to get in touch with them if need be.
Also, in serious situations, such as this, not only should you contact the school verbally. You should also send something to the school in writing, copying your Board of Education, explaining the situation in detail. School should be a safe place for kids and it’s turning into a nightmare for some kids. It needs to stop.
DON’T Be A Bystander
I know, in this day and age, we tell our kids, “Don’t get involved in other people’s drama.” We, as parents, need to understand, our children witnessing someone being humiliated or (EVEN WORSE) hurt by another child, is detrimental to their mental health, as well.
They need to feel comfortable, going to a trusted teacher, or you, and letting you know that another child is being hurt at school or around the neighborhood and you need to help that child. Whether it is by contacting the child’s parents, the school, the police-just get someone to help the situation. Instill in your child-If you see something, say something.
DO Explain Suicide
Unfortunately my kids, who are 8, 9, and 11, know about suicide. When my sister killed herself, they were devastated. I didn’t tell them at first. I knew they were going to find out so I wanted to be the one who told them. It was hard and they were confused (they’re still confused, I think) but they have come to a place of acceptance. A place I will never get to.
You may disagree with my decision to tell them the truth
I figured in a time when 11 year olds are killing themselves, it’s better to be honest than politically correct.
Let them know the basics-
Suicide is not glamorous, it’s gory and raw
This is not a TV show-suicide is forever-it’s final-it’s the end
And the people left behind are devastated and broken and incomplete because of it.
DO Take Their Feelings Seriously
Kids need to feel heard. This is where that trusted adult comes in handy. In some cases, kids feel it is their parent that is driving them to feel the feelings they’re having. So obviously, they’re not going to go to that parent to discuss these feelings.
If your child does come to you showing signs of depression or anxiety, take these symptoms seriously. Talk to their pediatrician honestly about your child’s behavior. They will supply you with instructions on what to do next.
Give your child the suicide prevention number 1-800-SUICIDE
In the end, whether you allow your child to watch “13 Reasons Why” or not-they are going to either watch behind your back or hear enough about it that they will know what it’s about. Even if the show never existed, kids need to learn about suicide prevention.
They need to understand bullies are going to bully. You can’t control how someone else acts. What you can control is how you react to those actions.
The show has tons of pros and cons, but so do a lot of other shows, movies, video games, YouTube videos, etc. There is only so much we can shield our kids from before the world is thrown in their faces.
In a perfect world, every kid would be happy and healthy and everyone would be friends but we have this world. Try to make it as perfect as possible for your child.
Be the pillar of strength your kid needs-be their rock-be their constant
And if you can’t be-find them a trusted adult so they can go to them anytime they need them. An aunt, uncle, teacher, coach, clergy can be there for them.
Did you allow your child to watch “13 Reasons Why?” Did they watch it somewhere else? How did you talk to them about it? Let me know in the comments.
Also, please share this post with other parents. Thank you
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 you 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.