From taking care of your baby’s/child’s teeth to planning a spring break “staycation” with your tweens and teens, our March issue of Washington FAMILY has something for every parent of every aged child!
Have a budding artist? We profiled a local artist who’s specializing in fun, explorative paint nights for all ages. We also compiled a list of art-filled events for “Youth Art Month” which will ignite your child’s creative side. Since everyone is Irish on March 17, we have another list of family-friendly events to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. For parents of school-age children, we answer the age-old question of how to handle bad grades on pg. 26.
But of all the great stories covered in this issue, the article that hits home for me the most is “Why We Need to Continue Talking About Teen Suicide.” It tackles a very serious topic that is near and dear to my heart. I’d like to share some information that might save a teen’s life.
Over a year ago, a family friend, age 15, attempted suicide. Molly (not her real name) suffered from depression and planned her suicide for months. She gathered prescription medications from within the household, which she consumed while she was on the phone late at night with a friend. The line went silent as Molly passed out. Her friend told her mother, and her mother called Molly’s mother. Molly’s door was locked, so her father broke down the door to see Molly limp, lying on her bed. Molly’s brother called 911 and the EMTs rushed her to the hospital. Fortunately, Molly survived.
But, the story could have easily ended tragically if any single step had been missed. What if her friend hadn’t told her mother? What if her mother hadn’t called Molly’s mother? I recently talked with Molly and she bravely agreed to share some insights of how parents can help: What to look for in a teen who is contemplating suicide. She doesn’t want any other teen or teen’s family to go through a similar experience.
According to WebMD, the risk factors for suicide are previous suicide attempt(s), psychological and mental disorders, substance and/or alcohol disorders, history of abuse, family history of suicide, feeling of hopelessness, physical illness, impulsive or aggressive tendencies, financial, relationship or social loss and isolation. Interestingly enough, Molly only had a few of these risk factors: depression, anxiety, hopelessness and isolation. But these are the key signs… especially depression.
To prevent suicide, you must understand depression. Molly had numerous signs of this. She didn’t want to be around anyone and felt that the future was never going to get better. She described this as “walking uphill in tar with wool socks.” Among feelings of helplessness, worthlessness and hopelessness, other signs of depression which Molly exhibited were loss of interest in daily activities, sleeping too much, hoarding and decline in hygiene. While it’s normal to occasionally feel sad or down, feelings of depression last much longer and are more serious. It’s essential to grasp the signs and realize that it’s an actual illness and therefore shouldn’t be stigmatized.
Since Molly has made great progress in addressing her depression, she shared some tips on how parents can help their teens with depression: show empathy and support, stress to them that they are not alone, monitor their social media, get them evaluated by a professional once signs arise and don’t put too much pressure on them (they already put pressure on themselves). She also recommended checking out online resources like ucantberased.com; she said it might have stopped her from attempting suicide if she had visited the site sooner.
Today, Molly is doing well with great support from her family and close friends. She’s on a prescription anti-depressant, takes long walks, is doing well in high school and is looking forward to college. She’s a survivor — and every day we continue to spread awareness of teen depression is another day a young life can be saved. Find out how to continue the conversation about teen suicide on pg. 32.
Just remember, preventing teen suicide starts with awareness. Get your teen talking. They want to. Be present. Be informed. Be proactive. And hug your kids a little tighter.
Washington FAMILY Magazine