I Am Listening
Dear parents, please listen.
Teenage suicide is very real and the rates are alarming! Don’t trivialize your child’s feelings lest they turn away from you and seek solace somewhere else. Validate them. It is so much easier to deal with a problem when you nip it in the bud. If you feel like your child is troubled, speak to him. No judgment at all. Make him feel that it is okay to share with you whatever his worries are. No matter how petty his concerns are, never dismiss them.
Underneath the pettiness lies a deep hurt that is simply difficult to let out and verbalize owing to the awkwardness of youth. With the rapid advances in technology and the proliferation of social media sites, more often than not there is a teenager that is being bullied online on a daily basis. Bullying is one of the major reasons for teenage suicide and suicide. Teasing and name-calling are low-level bullyings. To a teenager that is still grappling with his identity, every little act of shaming creates a cut inside which if undetected may be a full-blown gash.
Other factors that also play a part are parental neglect and broken families, among others. The numbers are said to be higher in developed countries particularly in Europe than they are in third world countries. Part of the reason may be a lack of reporting systems in underdeveloped countries. Depression is particularly intense during the cold winter months. Maybe, it contributes to the statistics of suicide in the western countries compared to the tropical countries where the sun is aplenty.
In fact, lightbox therapy which aims to simulate the sunlight is a prescribed treatment now to stave off depression during the cold months. Nonetheless, living in a tropical place doesn’t protect one from being depressed and eventually entertaining ending one’s life. If you as a parent has experienced losing a child to suicide, I feel for you. I may never completely discern the depth of your pain, but there is no denying that it is devastating. No parent should go through the pain of losing a child. Losing a child via illness or an accident is agonizing, doubly so if it is through suicide.
Parents should have a keen mind and know the warning signs. Stanford Children’s Health lists some of them such as agitation, restlessness, or panicky behavior; withdrawal from family or friends; noticeable changes in eating and sleeping habits; unexplained or unusually severe violent behaviors. If a teen manifests any of these, it is always best to ask him what’s wrong and make an effort to make him talk and pour his feelings out. Should it entail a lot of coaxing from the parent to make a teen open up about what’s happening to him, so be it. Patience and understanding will help a lot.
If you are a youngster reading this and you are contemplating committing suicide, DON’T! Seek help. Talk to your parents. They are the ones that can guide you and pull you out of the rut you might be in. Talk about your pain. Express your frustrations. Let go of your angst. Don’t cave in and bottle everything inside of you, otherwise, you will go into depression. Talk to your friends. You should keep a circle of friends that know how to support each other in times of need. Being young with raging hormones and a myriad of ideas floating inside your mind is never easy. But you have to learn to take it slow and share your feelings – both happy and sad.
If your conflict arises from the home setting, talk to an adult that you trust. Maybe a relative or a teacher that you can rely on. Asking for help does not mean you are weak. Far from that. Just the mere fact that you are able to acknowledge that you are not well and willing to open up your heart to somebody is bravery enough.
There are help desks and emergency hotline numbers that you can also call 24/7. Utilize all the help that you can get to pull you through. Being young is both a curse and a blessing. But, you have a choice always. The years ahead are calling out for you, waiting for you to explore the horizon and paint your future with a palette of pastel colors. Not black ones, but vibrant colors that will buoy you up and help make your most fervent wishes come true. It’s a wonderful world out there. Hop on the train so you don’t miss the chance to experience it.
If you still feel hopeless and helpless, still despondent after talking to a person that you trust, remember to call on God. Above and beyond everything, He is a sure hope line. Cry out all your fears and anxieties to Him and by prayer and faith, He will heal you and will never let go.