Are we really paying attention? Don’t overlook signs that kids may be suicidal

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

By Kaneisha Brown

Special to the Salisbury Post

Did you know that once every five days a child commits suicide? Are we really paying attention to the signs that our children are showing us?

Suicide is said to be the second leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. We live in a time when you have to worry about your children being bullied not only at school, but also on social media.

Either you’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, cool enough, don’t hang out with the “cool” crowd, or your clothes and shoes are not what’s in this season. Throughout all of this, you are still supposed to act like nothing is wrong and keep going.

There’s a saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” — biggest lie ever told.

Everyone, no matter the age, will have good days and bad days, which is normal. However, when your child is no longer wanting to attend school, or even go out and do normal activities, then that is when red flags should appear. Sometimes instead of asking what is wrong, we assume that children are being rebellious and not wanting to attend school, instead of finding out the root of the problem.

Studies show that boys are taught to never cry nor show emotions, because people might perceive them as “weak.” Teaching this to our boys this tells them to keep whatever emotions they are dealing with locked up inside. In doing this, we are unconsciously teaching our boys that if there is a problem going on, don’t talk it out, just suffer in silence.

Symptoms and risk factors for suicide include substance abuse, history of suicide attempts, depression, the loss of a loved one, incarceration, and family history of suicide.

Not to mention, there are various warning signs to also look for, including the feeling of being a burden, talking about killing oneself, isolating oneself, looking for ways to harm or kill oneself, and extreme mood swings.

Awareness should be taught in schools and discussed during PTA meetings. Studies shows that school psychologists could be the key to gaining knowledge about detecting suicidal behaviors and suicidal thoughts.

If you are unaware of the signs of depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, then you are also unaware of how to help someone that is having these issues. Just like Oprah Winfrey says, “When you know better, you do better.” Once you know the signs, you will be in a better position to help someone before it is too late.

Being aware of suicidal behaviors — feeling constant loneliness, severe sadness, partaking in dangerous activities, talking about committing suicide — could help decrease suicide attempts. Awareness of suicide and suicidal behaviors could save not only a potential victim, but also the victim’s family.

It could be helpful for someone to know that before they try put an end to their life, there is actually someone who loves and cares about them, and is willing to not only help them, but also listen to them.

Our kids are suffering and, sadly, they are suffering in silence. We need to get a grip on this to decrease the suicide rate. As parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends and loved ones, we need to be involved in what is going on in the lives of those around us.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or have a conversation if you feel like your loved one is straying away from normal activities. Whether you know it or not, all it really takes is a simple, “Tell me about your day,” or “How are you feeling” for your loved one to open up. Be engaged and concerned, and let’s make sure that we are really paying attention to what is going on.

Kaneisha Brown of Salisbury is an aspiring writer, and a loving mother to twin boys.