You only want to end the hurt
You feel as if you are in a black hole and can’t climb out
You think nobody else can understand your pain
You think a failure is the end of your carefully constructed world
It took me only seconds to recall some of my feelings as a teenager. Although, I never went as far as trying to commit suicide, I did have to wrestle with some very dark feelings after my family went through some very rocky times. I wish that I could go back in time to my more fragile, sensitive self and tell her that life would get better, but I don’t know if she’d have listened.
I had a good friend who attempted suicide. She had given a baby up for adoption as a young teenager and regretted that choice. The shame consumed her. Even though her decision had been out of love, she was her own harshest judge and jury. Aren’t we all? I think, sometimes, forgiving ourselves is the toughest thing to do. I found her with pills and booze in our dorm room. Luckily, she survived it, but it would be a lie to say her path was an easy one. She considered suicide a few more times. Although we lost touch, thanks to modern technology, I goggled her name today when I decided to write this blog. I found her alive and doing well — I can’t explain the rush of joy I felt, even after all these years, to know she was still here and breathing. It gave me hope.
Her baby would be a teenager now.
I often look at my own children, far away from those teenager years, and take a deep breath. I worry they won’t feel accepted by their peers, which is big reason for suicide, especially in the LGBT community. I worry that they won’t feel all the love I have for them. I worry that they won’t feel love for themselves.
Here are some tips for suicide prevention from the Long Island Suicide Prevention Coalition:
1.Give your undivided attention when your teenager wants to talk to you.
Don’t read, watch TV, fall asleep or make yourself busy with other tasks. Let them see that your focus is solely on what they are saying.
2.Develop a courteous tone of voice in communication.
Respect brings respect, even in the way we speak. If we talk to our children as we talk to other people, our own children might be more likely to see us as confidants. Gruffness or abruptness can arouse hostility, whereas a pleasant, caring tone of voice can pay great dividends in improved relationships.
3. Avoid making judgments.
Anyone avoids confiding in someone who is critical of his or her behavior. It is not necessary to approve all of your teenager’s behavior, but it is important to understand the feelings involved. Putting yourself in another’s place is not easy, particularly as attitudes, pressures and choices change. Today’s youth face many problems that did not exist when we were growing up. It is a challenge for a parent to be firm about important values while being flexible enough to bend with changing times.
4. Keep the door open on any subject.
Too often, teenagers avoid discussing things that may make their parents feel uncomfortable. Belittling, humiliating and laughing at children can cause deep wounds and short circuit the lines of communication. Teenagers often pay a very high price for not having the right information about many subjects, including sex.
5.Permit expression of ideas and feelings.
Many young people have their own ideas about morality, marriage, work, education, time, money and whatever else is a part of our way of life. Just because their views and philosophies are different from yours does not mean that they feel certain about them. Often young people “test” their ideas in conversation. To communicate, you must be willing to listen first and acknowledge their opinions, even if you alarmed by them. Then give your viewpoints as plainly and honestly as you can, recognizing that love and mutual respect can exist, even when points of view are differ.
I thought the insights here were useful. I hope none of us ever have to use these tips, but I am grateful for help that is online and elsewhere.
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