Connect with your children

Adolescents. They look so grown up on the outside, don’t they? They can be very responsible, mature, taking on challenges. But inside they still are adolescents – kids – and still have life-coping skills to learn.

Sometimes grown-ups don’t think about such things. We see a tall, intelligent, capable young person in front of us and get so busy taking care of necessary day-to-day business we don’t think about what’s going on inside our young people. We don’t see their struggles to get through the day-to-day events in their lives, the things they don’t talk about because they think no one is listening to them anyway so what is the use in talking? Or, they think it’s up to them to handle those rough times themselves, alone … bullying at school, cyber-bullying, maybe a perception that they made a huge mistake that makes them feel ashamed and embarrassed, things they’ve done or that happened to them that they fear will gravely disappoint or upset their parents so they try to handle things themselves … without needed knowledge, skills, or wisdom.

Anyone who has been a teenager has been there, done that in their youth. And everyone has not had someone they can trust to talk to about their troubles. But the truth is, when you talk to someone you can trust, someone wiser, more experienced than yourself, you may find that the things that looked so impossible before are not impossible, even the hard stuff.

When you don’t have someone to talk to that you can really trust, a good mentor, life can become like a deep, black, bottomless pit from which you think you will never be able to escape. Everyone needs a little help sometimes – some guidance, connection. Your children need someone they can talk to, someone who listens, someone who cares and communicates with them.

Youth Suicide Prevention Week will be observed Sept. 8-14 this year. The government website, www.youth.gov, is an online resource that includes youth facts. It is intended to strengthen youth programs in the community and keep up-to-date with the latest in youth-related news.

“The years between childhood and adulthood represent a critical period of transition and significant cognitive, mental, emotional and social change,” the site advises. This time of massive changes can come with some major challenges to mental health. These challenges can be so overwhelming that suicidal risk becomes very real. How do you fix something when you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel? How do you hold onto hope when you don’t see anything to hope for? What’s the point of anything if nobody even knows you exist?

First, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you find it when you reach out and someone reaches to you, to help you get on your feet again. And you need to keep getting up on your feet no matter how many times you get knocked down.

Second, there is hope when you have something to believe in, something bigger than yourself, that you can hold onto. For some, this is God. For others it starts with family and good friends who truly care about you.

Third, if you take your own life, there are people who are going to miss you, mourn you. You may not think so, but it’s true. You are needed in this lifetime or you wouldn’t have been born. But, first you have to get through the rough patches. They are learning experiences that make you strong, build strong character.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15-24. It is estimated that one out of every 15 high school students attempts suicide annually. One out of every 53 attempts at suicide require treatment by a doctor or nurse, and for each suicide death, there are more than 100 suicide attempts.

To put that into perspective, think about the high school in your community, of your high school’s student population. It doesn’t happen only in other areas.

“Parents, guardians, family members, friends, teachers, school administrators, coaches and extracurricular activity leaders, mentors, service providers [essentially every one of us] can play a role in preventing suicide and supporting youth,” advises youth.gov.

We all have an investment in our youth and our future.

If you, or someone you know, is considering suicide, please, don’t. Someone will listen, someone will help you. The National Suicide Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.)

NOTE: There will be a Fleming House Alumnae and Community Open House at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 at the big yellow house behind McDonald’s. This is a fundraiser event. See what a little love has done.

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