One of the toughest talks parents need to tackle with their children is mental health and thoughts of suicide and issues of self-harming. Sometimes the initial reaction with some parents is to deny it or that it is as much of an issue as it is. It is easy to forget how cruel kids can be and how hard school can be. Now with social media and the internet kids can’t even get away from their bullies anymore and enter a safe space. It is important to understand youth suicide prevention can only happen when you acknowledge the situation and the risk and do something before things spiral.
Create a stress-free living space
One of the big things as a parent is to have a living space that is as free from stress as is possible. They need a safe space where they can relax, vent and be themselves. Encourage them to create a bedroom that is light and bright with things they love. While not all children who have dark rooms are going to try and commit suicide, it is something that can happen. As their thoughts darken so that can reflect in the space they create for themselves. Consider where they go online and for how long. Also think about the pressure you might be placing on them when it comes to grades, school, family duties and what can be more balanced so they have less being placed on them.
Encourage them and listen to them
Never take for granted what spending quality time with your children can mean. Even the grumpy ones appreciate it! Make use of organizations like not my kid, who can offer advice, support and education to parents and youths. Make sure your teens feel they can talk to at least one of you about everything. Try to listen rather than make comments or judgements. Boost their confidence in small ways and bigger ways. Make sure they know you care. Learn about and offer resources if they prefer to talk to a professional.
Not my kid
notMYkid has been around for more than 20 years offering support to teens, schools, parents and communities with programs to educate and help with youth suicide prevention. It has helped more than 3 million people over the years and helps on average another 100,000 youths each year. It is a nonprofit organization that has helped transform lives from life-saving prevention to wellness education and behavioural health support. They have a whole team committed to helping youths overcome challenges when they are most vulnerable.
They offer a variety of programs and training in areas that have a huge impact on youths. Bullying, body image, vaping, substance abuse, internet safety, mental wellbeing, relationships, trauma and more. With their programs, they aim to build youths’ resiliency, emotional and social competence, knowledge and confidence and to make sure they know where to turn when they are struggling and need help.