Age Does Not Apply

suicide

The other day I received a notice in the mail from my son’s school, regarding suicide prevention. I’ve heard so many people make the comment, “They’re just kids. What kind of problems could they possibly have?” It’s great that these people had such a wonderful and simple childhood, that it enables them to make such a statement.

However, this comment is made out of ignorance. To think that children can’t possibly go through anything serious enough that they would contemplate suicide, is absurd. Children go through a lot.

They may not have to pay bills, go to work or raise a family, but they do struggle with school, all types of abuse, bullying and peer pressure. Not only that, they have to go through puberty. That alone can cause a great deal of turmoil in a child’s life.

As adults, we face problems that seem impossible to overcome. They are mountains standing before us. There is no difference between us and children. For children, regardless of their age, their problems are just as overwhelming as ours are. Sometimes even more so, because not only are they having to cope with problems, they are trying to figure out who they are in the process.

They’re still growing, learning themselves and discovering the world around them. They haven’t learned how to cope with rough situations yet and often times they feel that they have no one to turn to. “No one understands.” Most of us have either heard or said that ourselves when we were kids, and people made light of it. The sad part is, is that it was true. No one did seem to understand.

Instead, children were told, “Oh, you’ll get over it. It’ll be okay. You’ll forget all about that boy/girl in a couple of days.” The problem was that, they don’t just get over it, and our kids won’t just get over it either. In the eyes of a child, these problems are the end of the world for them.

Even though it was years ago, I remember being a kid. I had no idea what I was doing, and made so many mistakes along the way because of it. Everything I thought was right, was wrong and everything I thought was wrong, was right. My world was constantly being turned upside down. There was absolutely nothing easy about growing up and I would never want to do that again.

The point is, don’t assume that children can’t have real problems. They do. For them, their problems are very real. They need someone who will listen and who will understand. We may not understand the problem necessarily, but we do need to fully understand that the problem is significant for the child.

Most people, kids included, aren’t going to run up to you and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about overdosing on your prescription meds tonight.” They’re just going to do it. But if we pay attention and listen to our children, we may hear their cry for help before it’s too late.

People are screaming out for help all around us. It may not be audible, but it can be heard. All you have to do is listen.

Here are some warning signs from the notice I received. Even if your child smiles at dinner, laughs at jokes and appears to be okay, you should take a moment and review this list.

1) Previous Attempts

2) Depression – Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Comments or behaviors that indicate overwhelming feelings of sadness or pessimistic views on their future.

3) “Masked” Depression – Acts of aggression, gun-play and alcohol/substance abuse. While your child may not act ‘depressed’, their behavior suggests that they are not concerned about their own safety.

4) Final arrangements – Giving away prized possessions such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.

5) Efforts to hurt oneself – Self injury behaviors such as running into traffic, jumping from dangerous heights, or scratching, cutting and marking the body.

6) Inability to concentrate or think clearly – If your child starts getting poor grades, acting up in class, forgetting or poorly performing chores, or talking in a way that they are having trouble concentrating, these might be signs of stress and risk for suicide.

7) Changes is physical habits or appearance – This includes inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss, or disinterest in appearance or hygiene.

8) Sudden changes in personality, friends and behaviors – Withdrawing and avoiding friends and family, skipping school/classes, loss of involvement in activities that were once important.

9) Death and suicidal themes – Found in drawings, work samples, journals, or homework.

10) Plan/method/access – Increased interest in weapons, pills, or talking/hinting about a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.

11) Suicide notes

12) Suicide threats – Statements such as “I want to die. The world would be better without me. Nobody would miss me.” Even if they say it in a joking manner, it should be taken seriously.

Never say, “That couldn’t happen to my child. My child wouldn’t do that.” As much as you think you know your child (or anyone for that matter), there are some things you don’t know. Not everything is visible to the eye, especially when our love for them prevents us from seeing it.

This can happen to anyone; our friends, family members, children, co-workers or neighbors.  All I ask, is that you listen. Listen for their silent scream.

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40 Responses to Age Does Not Apply

  1. suzjones says:

    That’s terribly sad that we need to know this. I listened yesterday to a woman who broke down when she told us about her 15 year old son (who has a disability) who tried to commit suicide at Christmas time. It really is sad that this is the reality for those who feel that they can’t go on.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      I agree Sue. It broke my heart when I opened the envelope and saw what was inside. It’s so sad that this is even a discussion, but unfortunately it happens and frequently. I feel for that woman and her son. She must have felt so helpless. I can’t imagine.

      Like

  2. DailyMusings says:

    The world is also a different place than when I was growing up- social media alone has allowed a new level of “openness” and bullying to exist. I am always stunned when I hear in the news about a teenager who committed suicide because of relentless bullying, Sure there were bullies when I was a kid, but the bully did not have the use of FB and texting to spread their hate in unlimited ways. I think it is very important adults, parents are made aware of this. And that young adults know there is help and people to go to. Important post.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      You are absolutely right. Bullying used to be limited to school hours, but now there is no limit. There is no escape. With that said, I firmly believe that parents should monitor their child’s digital communication, whether it be text or social media.

      I think this falls back on the “my child wouldn’t do that.” People don’t want to believe that their child could be a bully. But, one never really knows. Not only would that reveal the bully, but also the child who is being bullied.There’s ways to prevent these tragedies and there’s always someone who will help those in need.

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  3. tric says:

    I think there are a lot of reasons children commit suicide. Open communication is probably the only thing which may make a difference but everyone is busy. As a teenager I was being sexually abused daily, then my dad got sick and had a miserable death, but I never ever contemplated suicide. I wonder why not? I think if we knew the answer we could be there to help those who are silently screaming or planning.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Everyone is too busy. Isn’t that the truth? Their too busy these days to see what’s going on right in front of them. That applies to just about anything, including these terrible tragedies.

      I read this yesterday, but couldn’t reply. But, the question you asked was on my mind a lot last night. Why is it that people can go through similar situations, and one contemplates suicide and the other doesn’t? Is it the wiring? Are we just wired a certain way, a way that makes us more susceptible?

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      • tric says:

        Yes I really think so. For myself it was the way I managed my abuse. It allowed me heal as I lived. For others I think their coping mechanisms are not good enough and they are put under a lot more stress. I know people who have had a lot less happen to them and they are not in the same “healthy” spot I am in.
        I also think some do not speak. I have a great friend who is gay. He very nearly killed himself as he could not accept it. But then he didn’t and has continued to live a great open life.
        If he had committed suicide none of us would ever have known why, as he was following a heterosexual life at the time.

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        • mewhoami says:

          Sometimes the only thing people know to revert to, is silence. They don’t tell anyone what they’re going through out of fear of being judged or thinking that no one cares. That’s sad that people feel that way, because there’s always someone to talk to, even if it’s a stranger.

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  4. April says:

    It’s great that there is some recognition being sent to parents. It’s also sad that we don’t give younger people the notice that their problems are just as serious. Depression does not discriminate–it can happen to anyone at any age.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I agree. It’s good that the schools aren’t overlooking this and are trying to put a stop to it. It is preventable, in most cases. It seems that depression is hitting younger kids more and more these days. I wonder why?

      Tric said, people are busy. I think that’s a large part. The other is that parents and other guardians seem to get away with a lot more than they used to. Social services take a peek inside out of protocol and then walk away in many cases, leaving children to fend for themselves. Talk about feeling hopeless.

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  5. culturemonk says:

    Ive thought for a long time that if there is bullying going on at a school then the principle needs to be sacked post haste; it simply shouldn’t be tolerated at all. And if principles say “it is beyond my control’ than put someone in there who can control it and rid the school of bullying

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    • mewhoami says:

      I completely agree. Unfortunately, a lot of the bullying goes without being noticed. With social media, people don’t have to bully out loud anymore. They can do it from the comfort of their own home or phone. I think it should be a shared responsibility between school officials and parents. They both need to own up to what the children are doing and put an end to it.

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    • CharleneMcD says:

      I agree with your comment about sacking the principal. Especially if it is the principal that is doing the bullying (personal experience). Sometimes they get power hungry and don’t care who they step on in their quest to stay on top. I have met principals that would give the shirt off their back to help a child or teacher and I have met some that are she-devils in disguise. If only it were so easy to sack the principal and get someone better in that spot.

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  6. When I was in grade school, a girl tried to bully me. My mother said, “Fight back verbally.” I did, and my tormentor stopped. Bullies are innate cowards,and many find their courage in a crowd. Schools need to be carefully alert and listen, as you say, to the silent scream. Welcome and well stated post. Thank you.

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    • mewhoami says:

      They are cowards indeed. They put others down in an effort to lift themselves up. It’s a sign of a very low self confidence and self esteem. I agree that schools need to listen and not just toss these issues to the side.

      Like

  7. sothislife says:

    Reblogged this on sothislife and commented:
    Very Important

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  8. Thank you for sharing I think it’s very important information that all parents must have. Even though it was a very long time ago now, I do remember what it was like being a child and yes suicide was contemplated more than once.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you for your comment. I too believe that it’s very important to put this out there, especially since this is becoming so much more prevalent. Being a child is hard, and as you’ve shown by your comment, those experiences can forever stay in our memory.

      Like

  9. meredithwyatt1990 says:

    Reblogged this on Speak Through Your Heart and Your Mind Will Follow and commented:
    I need to reblog this as I’ve helped many climb out of depression

    Like

  10. Crazy timing. My most recent entry is about my friend who committed suicide. I blind eye and ignorance to the issues cause more damage than can ever be undone. Thank you so much for being strong and contagious. Thank you for saying something in a world that it would be “eaiser” to be Silent. I’m so sit sorry you had to receive this I’m sorry we are in a society where this conversation still needs to happen. Thank you for sharing

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  11. This is very true. Age does not apply. 20 some odd years ago, a guy I dated had a 12 year old son who was suffering from depression and he hanged himself in his closet. And his 7 year old sister found him. I commend schools and parents for being proactive in looking for those warning signs and the signs don’t just apply to kids, they are equally relevant for adults too. Thanks for this post.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Please forgive me for my late response. I thought I had replied several days ago.

      How awful for their family. That is so tragic. I can’t imagine going through anything like that. It’s such an important issue to be discussed and one that cannot be ignored. As you said, it’s not just for the young, it’s for people of all ages. Suicide doesn’t have any limits on age, race, social standings, or environment. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

  12. This hits home for me as a mother of a young son who has threatened suicide a number of times. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear these words out of the mouths of any one, let alone a child.

    A power post, that I will be reblogging. It goes hand in hand with my Pink Shirt Day post.

    Thank you!

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      I am sorry that you have had to deal with this with your son. It is sad that people get to that point in their lives where they feel that that is the only option. Just by commenting on this, it shows how much you love your son. I do wish him and you the best and that he is able to get the help that he needs. I will head over to read your post in a few. Thank you so much for the comment.

      Like

  13. Reblogged this on That Dizzy Chick and commented:
    Such a powerful post, and it goes hand in hand with my Will You Wear Pink? post.
    Special thanks to Me-Who am I for originally posting this.

    Like

  14. Jenni says:

    It hurts my heart to think of someone in such pain, especially a child who feels alone. Thank you for sharing this and I’m sorry that it needs to be shared.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Jenni, it is very heartbreaking. No one should ever feel alone and it’s sad that so many people do. They should always have a hope that things will get better, because they will. It make time, but there’s always life on the other side of the fog.

      Like

  15. I’m glad you posted this… I remember being very sad, lonely, and suicidal as a kid. I remember thinking to myself “when I’m a parent, I’m going to remember how hard it is to be a kid! I’m going to be sympathetic”. And here I am at 18, pretty far from being a parent, and it’s already difficult to remember how hard it can be at that stage of life.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Isn’t it interesting how we tend to forget the very things that we so badly wanted to remember? I do this with my son. I constantly have to remind myself to remember my own childhood so that I can relate to him. I’m sorry that you had such a rough time as a child. I’m glad you made it through. Growing up is not easy! For anyone who says it is, they better be thankful for the easy life they had, as it is rare.

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      • It sure isn’t easy! But I guess none of life is, and we sure do learn a lot and become who we are through overcoming obstacles 🙂 Now I am grateful for it because I can relate to many other people! (although it was the pits back then!)

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