Since this is suicide prevention awareness month I wanted to post it in a different way. I am thankful that I have never considered suicide but have been depressed enough that I understand how it feels to think that not existing is the only solution.
I have been involved with families who have experienced suicide and have seen the result first hand. I am distraught by the number of suicides that we are seeing in young people today and the devastating impact on the families.
Suicide automatically leaves guilt behind for loved ones. The first questions they ask themselves is “what did I do wrong?” This is followed by “why didn’t I know?” Parents may want to place blame as a way of removing themselves from the equation. Sometimes one parent blames the other. Marriages disintegrate and families split apart. This result is sometimes called “suicide survivors.” Are they really surviving?
The impact on others is far reaching. Friends will also feel guilt and issues of blame arise also. “If only I had been a better friend.” “If only others had been kinder.” The ripples from suicide are like that of a stone thrown into a pond. Anyone who is connected at all is changed forever.
The long term effects can also be devastating. If my friend found that suicide could solve his problems maybe I can too. The rate of suicide in families who have had a suicide is much higher than the general population.
We have to find ways to end this epidemic. Non only for those who can see no other way out but also for the people they touch. There is much to be done as this epidemic is reaching pandemic proportions. Awareness is a beginning but as I have said before we must have more accessible help in a timely manner. Faster recognition of those with problems and better care.
We all must help and demand recognition of this problem!
Today at lunch with friends we were told about a family who lost a 10 year old son to suicide. He shot himself in the head. Later the family lost another son to drugs. This is a loving family and their relatives say there was nothing wrong with their childhood. The younger child was bullied and I don’t think the other son ever got over his brother’s death.
It scares me that suicides are occurring in such young children. It’s hard to know why. I know that our exposure to so much data may be part of the answer. A child growing up when there was no media would probably never know anyone who committed suicide and certainly would not be bullied on line. There was some bullying in school when I was a child but it was nipped in the bud by the teachers. This was also the era when parents believed the teacher and usually there was some sort of punishment to follow for the child. Things have really changed.
Now we are so exposed to all the terrible events around the world that to take a gun and shoot oneself or someone else is not unusual. Exposure desensitizes us.
There is so much anxiety and depression in children. I have mentioned that I see it as being related to parenting in such a way that children do not have a safe base….a place where there are rules and secure love. Children need limits. No limits is a scary thing. It means that no one cares what you do. No one loves you enough to set limits for you.
I can see some changes in parenting recently and I hope that the changes are for the better. I so want to see children grow up loved and secure.
My oldest daughter called this morning on her way to work. She works at a major Children’s Hospital as a nurse case manager. She see some of the most critical and heart wrenching cases. In the past she worked at another unit that was an adolescent med-psych unit so she has experience with psych.
Today she was distressed that a short while ago her bosses son overdosed and died. They don’t know if it was suicide or an accident. Then she learned that a friend’s child committed suicide. This morning she was distressed that she is seeing so many cases of young adults and teens in crisis. Like the rest of us she has no idea why this is happening but is terrible concerned about the culture that is creating mental distress in the young.
It seems that both of these cases were a total surprise and not the result of known mental health issues. Of course she realizes that the problem could have been there unrecognized but in these two cases it seems not.
Recently several blogs that I read have talked about the current TV series 13 Reasons. The blogs have been very negative about the value of this program and its influence. I have not watched it….I watched a brief piece and the premise turned me off so I quit. The blogs seem to feel that this show has a bad influence on young people and the blogs were written by people close to the age.
There are so many problems with the structure of the family today that it is easy for me to see why children are stressed. In some cases the children run the family and the adults take second place. When this happens children don’t feel safe. There is no strong adult influence. Parents must be parents.
In other cases the family is so busy with outside activities that there is no family time. They don’t eat together or take time to talk and share. Children need structure and down time with their family to feel connected.
Like my daughter I am equally concerned about the pattern we are seeing in children and young adults. I pray that some change will come about that re-centers the family group and gives children security and grounding.
Raising children to become anxious and prone to violence and suicide is a plague upon our society.