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You can help prevent suicide

prevent suicideShow You Care: Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

  • “It sounds like you’re angry (or jealous or something else), and it’s okay to be angry.”
  •  “I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”
  •  ”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”
  •  ”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”

Ask The Question: Talking with people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.

Challenge their Thinking; It’s also about helping them see that death won’t solve their problem

  • ‘It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to kill yourself.’
  • ‘I care about you, but I can’t give in to you when you act this way, so now I have to call someone here to keep you safe.’
  • ‘How are you going to feel the respect and attention you’re looking for if you are dead? You’ll be gone forever.’
  • ‘Do you really want to go away forever? You’ll leave a big hole of pain in your family and friends, who love you very much.’

Create Time-to-talk: The goal is to keep the person safe long enough to get to a time and place where there can be some good talking.

  • Go for a drive. Take them to a place where they might calm down.
  •  ‘Go for a walk or drive him ‘round the community. Only drop him back home when he’s really tired. But still watch over him.’
  • ‘Take him away from the thing that was making him angry.’
  • ‘Go to a coffee shop.’ (laughter)
  • ‘Or the beach.’ (more laughter)
  •  ‘Go to a place that’s safe for them but doesn’t facilitate their suicide fantasy, or give in to what they’re asking for.’
  • ‘Sometimes the safest place might be the emergency room.’

After they calm down and get some slept, you can make connections, like with family or support workers. Then you can talk about it more.

  • ‘Do something that makes him happy. Just ask them gently. You can listen to them. Get their story.’
  •  ‘Remind them about their family. People they care about. You can ask them, “What are the troubles in your life?”’
  • ‘Ask them simple questions. Get them to think about what they are doing. Like, “How are you feeling when you     say you want to kill yourself?” or “What are the things that make you feel this way?’
  • Help them break it down, so they can see the process of when they do this, identifying emotional     states and suicidal triggers.’
  •  ‘You can help them think about other things they can do when they feel this way again.’

Get Help: Never talk of suicide as a secret.

  • “I know where we can get some help.”
  • ”Let’s talk to someone who can help.”
  • “I can go with you to get some help.”
  • “Let’s call the crisis line, now.”

Sometimes you can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills such as:

  • Someone the person already has connections with.
  • Trustworthy family member. Someone the young person has respect for Support working together with the family member. “Family is important to provide support. It’s a partnership: support working with family and vice versa.”
  • Someone who can help build coping mechanisms and help them talk about their strengths.
  • Connect with a mental health professional or someone who can follow-up separately with the person making the threat.
  •  Someone who can talk to the whole community about suicide.
  • Anyone SAFE –  “Sometimes, to keep them safe, there might be no one left to call but the police.”

What NOT to say

  • ‘Go for it’
  • ‘Make my day.’
  •  ‘Go ahead.’
  •  ‘I dare you.’
  • ‘Here’s the rope.’
  • Giving them a challenge so they feel they have to prove it, like, ‘You don’t really mean it’ or ‘I don’t believe you.’
  • Saying something dismissive, like, ‘It can’t be that bad’ or ‘You always say that.’
  • Saying something that might make them feel more angry or alone, like, ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ or ‘No one cares.’

SUMMARY

Do something now: Don’t assume that they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own.

Acknowledge your reaction: It’s natural to feel panic and shock, but take time to listen and think before you act.

Be there for them: Spend time with the person and express your care and concern.

Ask if they are thinking of suicide: Asking can sometimes be very hard but it shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone.

Check out their safety: If a person is considering suicide it is important to know how much they have thought about it. Do they have a plan?

Decide what to do: What you decide to do needs to take into account the safety concerns that you have. Don’t agree to keep it a secret.

Take action: The person can get help from a range of professional and supportive people
Ask for a promise: if thoughts of suicide return, it is important for the person to again reach out and tell someone.

Look after yourself: It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, especially over an extended period.

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP CALL
2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline

 

 

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Coping with Grief at Christmas through Play

“I miss my sissy”

I have to share this photo and story from another play therapies friend of mine!

Molly wrote me telling me this story: A friend of mine lost her, then 16-year-old, daughter in a car accident one year ago. As the family is dealing with the pain of the loss at the holidays – this photo was taken today (Dec 23, 2013).

It is my friends older daughter who is 19, found in the home playing with their old toys (which the two were known to do often together.) I love this photo – it speaks VOLUMES to the power of play – at the angel the picture was taken, you can’t tell this is a 19-year-old young lady, but rather – I can see the child in her coming out, trying to feel connected to her lost sister as a way to cope with missing her at the Holidays.

In her words, she shared “I miss my sissy and this was the only way to feel more with her.”

Dr Kay Trotter Kaleidoscope Counseling

Through play a child communicates emotions & feelings

I would love to hear your stores on how you cope with grieve during the Christmas Holiday.

Please leave me your comment as this is the first Christmas with out my mom (Sue Sudekum 1932-2013) and I miss her very much. In fact I find that this Christmas I cry a lot and at the lease little thing too. As painful as this time is, it does bring my mom closer to me as I have been thinning and talking to her often.

Death and Grief Resources

Dealing with grief during the holidays

An encouraging word – for those who grief at Christmas 

Dr John Irvine helping children deal with grief at Christmas

More of Dr Kay’s blogs on Grief:

Grief and Loss

How to Comfort a Friend After a Death

Guiding Teens Through Loss

Invisible Wounds of Deeply Hurting Children

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Along My Journey…Grieving

Grief is an interesting process, one that I understand but, then again, don’t. Grief seems to take on a life of its own and, for each person, this journey is uniquely their own. For me, the death of my mom this past spring is still too raw and I have not ventured into those turbulent waters. However, my sister, Ann, who lived with our mom, has taken a different route on her journey.

Along My Journey

by Ann Sudekum
Ann and mom February 2013

Ann and mom February 2013

One thing that has helped me with my grieving process has been writing in a journal, which releases a lot of anxiety and pain and anger. Not just with the loss of my mother, but also with the loss of other dreams and desires.

Much of what I have written is for my eyes only, but sometimes I think my words could be of value to others. So, today, I offer a recent “stream of consciousness” in what could be considered a poem.

 


Along My Journey

Along my journey I have walked into many caves and the darkness frightened me and made me cry out for help.

Along my journey I have received love and kindness from many angels here on earth. These angels are the living, breathing human beings in my life who hold me up and encourage me.

Along my journey I have felt like I had dragons to slay; big, mean dragons. But, slay them I did and, when I did, I loudly whispered amen.

Along my journey I have received an overwhelming sense of peace from many angels in heaven. These angels are the people I speak to at night and who visit me in my dreams.

Along my journey I have encountered a hungry tiger and I fed him with my guilt. But the hope inside me helped me redeem myself.

Along my journey I have wandered astray and wearily asked God for help to guide me back home and He has taken my hand and walked beside me.


536672_10200831568021978_937239642_nAs someone who likes variety in their life, Ann Sudekum is a writer, a personal chef, and an all-around marketing consultant. She owns two companies: Ann’s Custom Cuisine and Sudekum Solutions and spends most of her time in front of the stove or in the front of the computer (usually while sitting outside on her patio). In her free time, she enjoys walking her Collie, Seamus, planning her next party or reading a mystery novel.

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How to Comfort a Friend After a Death

My daughter called me this morning and said her friend’s mother died at midnight and then one of her teacher friends died at 2 a.m. Aside from her own grief, my daughter wanted to know how she could comfort her friend as well as comfort her fellow teachers.

Her question made me realize it’s often hard for people to know what to say or do when someone they care about is grieving. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. There are many ways to help a grieving friend, starting with letting them know you care.

Understanding the Grieving Process

The death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Your grieving friend will struggle with many intense and frightening emotions, including depression, anger and guilt. Often, they feel isolated and alone in their grief and having someone to lean on can help them through the grieving process.

Don’t let discomfort prevent you from reaching out to them. Now, more than ever, your support is needed. You might not know exactly what to say or what to do, but that’s okay. You don’t need to have answers or give advice. The most important thing you can do for your friend is to simply be there. Your support and caring presence will help them cope with the pain and begin to heal.

Listen With Compassion

Almost everyone worries about what to say to people who are grieving. But knowing how to listen is much more important. While you may think you should avoid talking about the death or mentioning the deceased person, your friend actually needs to feel that their loss is acknowledged, it’s not too terrible to talk about, and their loved one won’t be forgotten.


Accept and acknowledge all feelings. Let your friend know that it’s okay to cry in front of you, to get angry, or to break down. Don’t try to reason with them over how they should or shouldn’t feel. Your friend should feel free to express their feelings, without fear of judgment, argument, or criticism.While you should never try to force someone to open up, it’s important to let your friend know they have permission to talk about the loss. Talk candidly about the person who died and don’t steer away from the subject if the deceased’s name comes up. When it seems appropriate, ask sensitive questions – without being nosy – that invite your friend to openly express his or her feelings. Try simply asking, “Do you feel like talking?”

  • Be willing to sit in silence. Don’t press if your friend doesn’t feel like talking. You can offer comfort and support with your silent presence. If you can’t think of something to say, just offer eye contact, a squeeze of the hand, or a reassuring hug.
  • Let your friend talk about how their loved one died. People who are grieving may need to tell the story over and over again, sometimes in minute detail. Be patient. Repeating the story is a way of processing and accepting the death. With each retelling, the pain lessens.
  • Offer comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss. Tell your friend that what they’re feeling is okay. If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what your friend is feeling, or compare your grief to theirs.
Comments to avoid when comforting your friend
  • “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
  • “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
  • “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” Your friend knows they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
  • “He’s in a better place now.” Your friend may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
  • “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
  • Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”

Offer Practical Assistance

It is difficult for many grieving people to ask for help. They might feel guilty about receiving so much attention, fear being a burden, or be too depressed to reach out. You can make it easier for them by making specific suggestions – such as, “I’m going to the market this afternoon. What can I bring you from there?” or “I’ve made beef stew for dinner. When can I come by and bring you some?”

Consistency is very helpful and , if you can manage it, being there for as long as it takes. This helps your friend look forward to your attentiveness without having to make the additional effort of asking again and again. You can also convey an open invitation by saying, “Let me know what I can do,” which may make your grieving friend feel more comfortable about asking for help. But keep in mind that your friend may not have the energy or motivation to call you when they need something, so it’s better if you take the initiative to check in.

Take the Initiative

There are many practical ways you can help your grieving friend, including offers to:

  • Shop for groceries or run errands
  • Drop off a casserole or other type of food
  • Help with funeral arrangements
  • Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
  • Help with insurance forms or bills
  • Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
  • Watch their children or pick them up from school
  • Drive them wherever they need to go
  • Look after their pets
  • Go with them to a support group meeting
  • Accompany them on a walk
  • Take them to lunch or a movie
  • Share an enjoyable activity (take a walk, play a game, do a puzzle, make an art project)

Provide Ongoing Support

Grieving continues long after the funeral is over and the cards and flowers have stopped. The length of the grieving process varies from person to person. But in general, grief lasts much longer than most people expect. Your bereaved friend may need your support for months or even years.

  • Continue your support over the long haul. Stay in touch with your friend and periodically check in, drop by, or send texts, e-mails and cards. Your support is more valuable than ever once the funeral is over, the other mourners are gone, and the initial shock of the loss has worn off.
  • Don’t make assumptions based on outward appearances. Your grieving friend may look fine on the outside, while inside he or she is suffering. Avoid saying things like “You are so strong” or “You look so well.” This puts pressure on the person to keep up appearances and to hide his or her true feelings.
  • The pain may never fully heal. Be sensitive to the fact that life may never feel the same. You don’t “get over” the death of a loved one. Your friend may learn to accept the loss and the pain may lessen in intensity over time, but the sadness may never completely go away.
  • Offer extra support on special days. Certain times and days of the year will be particularly hard for your grieving friend. Holidays, family milestones, birthdays, and anniversaries often reawaken grief. Be sensitive on these occasions. Let the bereaved person know that you’re there for whatever he or she needs.

Watch for Warning Signs

It’s common for a grieving person to feel depressed, confused, disconnected from others, or like they’re going crazy. But if your friend’s symptoms don’t gradually start to fade – or they get worse with time – this may be a sign that normal grief has evolved into a more serious problem, such as clinical depression.

If you observe any of the following warning signs after the initial grieving period (especially if it’s been over two months since the death), encourage your friend to seek professional help.

  • Difficulty functioning in daily life
  • Extreme focus on the death
  • Excessive bitterness, anger, or guilt
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Inability to enjoy life
  • Hallucinations
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Constant feelings of hopelessness
  • Talking about dying or suicide*

It can be tricky to bring up your concerns your friend. You don’t want to perceived as invasive. Instead of telling them what to do, try stating your own feelings: “I am troubled by the fact that you aren’t sleeping. Perhaps you should look into getting help?

*If a grieving friend talks about suicide, get professional help right away. In a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

Things to remember about grief. . .

  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief does not always unfold in orderly, predictable stages. It can be an emotional roller coaster, with unpredictable highs, lows and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling your friend what they “should” be feeling or doing.
  • Grief may involve extreme emotions and behaviors. Feelings of guilt, anger, despair and fear are common. Your grieving friend may yell to the heavens, obsess about the death, lash out at loved ones, or cry for hours on end. They need reassurance that what they’re feeling is normal. Don’t judge them or take their grief reactions personally.
  • There is no set timetable for grieving. For many people, recovery after bereavement takes 18 to 24 months, but for others, the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Don’t pressure your friend to move on or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long. This can actually slow their healing.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: 214-499-0396, Kay@KayTrotter.com or visit her web site www.KayTrotter.com

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Suicide is a Threat

This is from a talk I did for the Lewisville ISD on September, 15, 2011 at their CHOICES  “Ask the Doctor” a community wide event.

SUICIDE is a Threat

Suicidal acts are frantic attempts at improving one’s life, not ending it.
D.J. Mayo, Psychologist

In most cases, suicide is a solitary event and yet it has often far-reaching repercussions for many others. It is rather like throwing a stone into a pond; the ripples spread and spread.
Alison Werhteimer

People choose suicidal acts when they see them as the best way of ending an unbearable situation or getting the changes they desire.
World Health Organisation

Hopeless

What do we worry for?
We worry for the one making the threat

The example I use for this talk was a male, so these points are written as ‘he’, but the person at risk could also be a ‘she’. The choice of how to kill one-self is also an example and could easily be a gun or pills.

Life, Death and Safety

  • We’re worried – that he’ll follow through on the threat.
  • We’re worried – that he’ll feel he has backed himself into a corner and has to follow through for people to take him seriously.
  • We’re worried – that he might not understand that hanging puts quick, severe pressure on your neck, spine, air and blood flow in a way that will almost definitely damage the body a brain.
  • We’re worried – that he doesn’t understand how quick it is, and that hanging doesn’t leave time for people to respond or rescue, nor does it leave time for him to change his mind.

Skills, Knowledge and Thought Processes

  • We’re worried – that the person’s not thinking straight about how final death really is. Deep down they’re probably acting this way because they really want some kind of change, but they’ve lost hope
  • We’re worried – that he can’t think straight, because anger, jealousy, alcohol or some other drug has broken down the things that normally keep him safe from dangerous impulses
  • We’re worried – that he’s not thinking of ways to soothe himself or calm himself down.
  • We’re worried – that he doesn’t have the skills to look inside himself, to recognize his needs or analyze his thought processes so that he could make changes to the way he’s doing things.
  • He might have a need he can’t express. He might have pain he can’t communicate. And if he can’t tell us about it, we can’t help him. And while we’re dealing with the suicide threat, energy gets diverted from dealing with the ‘deeper’ needs.

Feelings and Pain

  • Underneath all this, there might be poor self-esteem. The threats might be a reaction to feeling rejected or unloved. It might be coming out of anger about confusing or unjust circumstances. It might be an attempt to reach out in the midst of loneliness.
  • Maybe he’s doing this because it’s hard to find actions that seem to have any noticeable effect on the world, and this is one of the few ways he’s found to make his presence felt, and because these actions meet this need, it becomes a bit like an addiction.
  • Maybe this ‘flaring up’ is indicative of really low emotional resources, feeling deeply stressed, tired or drained.
  • It’s hard for us to meet these deep needs when he’s doing things that create so much distress and isolation.
powerless
  • It might come from the limited thought processes of young minds and experiences: they don’t know that ‘this will pass’.
  • Maybe it’s part of youth trying to cope when they have been experiencing big or fast changes on a deep level. Like those that have taken place since 9/11.
  • Or changes in the way the family is run and structured.
  • It might be that these people do not know how to cope if they don’t get what they want.
  • Maybe it’s a sort of crazed anxiety of losing love, especially if important connections are missing or broken, and it feels like you might be in danger of losing the ones that are left.
  • Perhaps the threats are violence turned inwards, then radiating out to those who are closest.

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking About Dying — any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self-harm.
  • Recent Loss — through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed
  • Change in Personality — sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic
  • Change in Behavior — can’t concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
  • Change in Sleep Patterns — insomnia, often with early waking or over sleeping, nightmares
  • Change in Eating Habits — loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
  • Fear of losing control — going crazy, harming self or others
  • Low self-esteem — feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, “everyone would be better off without me”
  • No hope for the future — believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change

Other things to watch for—suicidal impulses, statements, plans; giving away favorite things; previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, making out wills, arranging for the care of pets, extravagant spending, agitation, hyperactivity, restlessness or lethargy.

Every person can help prevent suicide

Show You Care!
Often, suicidal thinking comes from a wish to end deep psychological pain. Death seems like the only way out. But it isn’t. Acknowledge the feelings they might be having, and that it’s okay to feel those things, or perhaps acknowledge your relationship to them, and that you care about them.  Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

  • “It sounds like you’re angry (or jealous or something else), and it’s okay to be angry.”
  •  “I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”
  •  ”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”
  •  ”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”

Ask The Question
Don’t hesitate to raise the subject. Talking with young people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Chances are, if you’ve observed any of the warning signs, they’re already thinking about it. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.

  •  “Are you thinking about suicide?”
  • ”Do you really want to die?”
  •  “Do you want your problems to go away?”

Challenge their Thinking
Challenge thinking is about letting them know that even though it’s okay to be feeling this way and you still care about them, it’s not okay to use the violence of threats or death that cause people so much pain. It’s also about helping them see that death won’t solve their problem

  • ‘It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to kill yourself.’
  • ‘I care about you, but I can’t give in to you when you act this way, so now I have to call someone here to keep you safe.’
  • ‘How are you going to feel the respect and attention you’re looking for if you are dead? You’ll be gone forever.’
  • ‘Do you really want to go away forever? You’ll leave a big hole of pain in your family and friends, who love you very much.’

Create Time-to-talk
The goal is to keep the person safe long enough to get to a time and place where there can be some good talking.

  • Go for a drive. Take them to a place where they might calm down.
  •  ‘Go for a walk or drive him ‘round the community. Only drop him back home when he’s really tired. But still watch over him.’
  • ‘Take him away from the thing that was making him angry.’
  • ‘Go to a coffee shop.’ (laughter)
  • ‘Or the beach.’ (more laughter)
  •  ‘Go to a place that’s safe for them but doesn’t facilitate their suicide fantasy, or give in to what they’re asking for.’
  • ‘Sometimes the safest place might be the emergency room.’

After they calm down and get some slept, you can make connections, like with family or support workers. Then you can talk about it more.

  • ‘Do something that makes him happy. Just ask them gently. You can listen to them. Get their story.’
  •  ‘Remind them about their family. People they care about. You can ask them, “What are the troubles in your life?”’
  • ‘Ask them simple questions. Get them to think about what they are doing. Like, “How are you feeling when you     say you want to kill yourself?” or “What are the things that make you feel this way?’
  • Help them break it down, so they can see the process of when they do this, identifying emotional     states and suicidal triggers.’
  •  ‘You can help them think about other things they can do when they feel this way again.’

Get Help
After the crisis has calmed down never talk of suicide as a secret, even if they ask you to. It’s better to risk a friendship than a life.
Ideas of what to say:

  • “I know where we can get some help.”
  • ”Let’s talk to someone who can help.”
  • “I can go with you to get some help.”
  • “Let’s call the crisis line, now.”

Sometimes you can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills such as:

  • Someone the person already has connections with.
  • Trustworthy family member. Someone the young person has respect for Support working together with the family member. “Family is important to provide support. It’s a partnership: support working with family and vice versa.”
  • Someone who can help build coping mechanisms and help them talk about their strengths.
  • Connect with a mental health professional or someone who can follow-up separately with the person making the threat.
  •  Someone who can talk to the whole community about suicide.
  • Anyone SAFE –  “Sometimes, to keep them safe, there might be no one left to call but the police.”

What NOT to say
Here are some things about what would be unhelpful to say to someone thinking about killing themselves

  • ‘Go for it.’
  • ‘Make my day.’
  •  ‘Go ahead.’
  •  ‘I dare you.’
  • ‘Here’s the rope.’
  • Giving them a challenge so they feel they have to prove it, like, ‘You don’t really mean it’ or ‘I don’t believe you.’
  • Saying something dismissive, like, ‘It can’t be that bad’ or ‘You always say that.’
  • Saying something that might make them feel more angry or alone, like, ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ or ‘No one cares.’

Summary

Do something now: Don’t assume that they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own.

Acknowledge your reaction: It’s natural to feel panic and shock, but take time to listen and think before you act.

Be there for them: Spend time with the person and express your care and concern.

Ask if they are thinking of suicide: Asking can sometimes be very hard but it shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone.

Check out their safety: If a person is considering suicide it is important to know how much they have thought about it. Do they have a plan?

Decide what to do: What you decide to do needs to take into account the safety concerns that you have. Don’t agree to keep it a secret.

Take action: The person can get help from a range of professional and supportive people
Ask for a promise: if thoughts of suicide return, it is important for the person to again reach out and tell someone.

Look after yourself: It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, especially over an extended period.

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP CALL
2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline

Book for Parents
“Chasing Happiness: One Boy’s Guide to Helping Other Kids Cope with Divorce, Parental Addictions and Death” by Chase Block; Foreword by Kay Sudekum Trotter, PhD – pages 75 – 81 have great suicide advice

“Helping Your Child Cope with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts” by Tonia K. Shampoo and Philip G. Patros

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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How Do I Help My Teen Deal With the Loss of a Friendship?

Guest Author Paige Agnew, author of Starless Sky

Paige wrote her first book, Starless Sky at age 15 and Starless Sky was birthed during the time of Paige’s own grief and loss in 8th grade. Starless Sky is a genuine portrayal of grief and loss, yet comforting and filled with hope and expectation. It is a book of encouragement through following the lives of high schoolers. She was born in Michigan.  Her compassion and sense of humor is in all of her writings. When Paige is not writing, she enjoys sports, dancing, singing, playing the piano, reading and attending her brother’s college football games.

A loss of a friendship, be it via death or relocation, can be hard on a teenager just as it can be on adults.  It is important to recognize when your teenager is struggling with the loss more than what is normal.  Recognizing the symptoms is one way of helping your teenager deal with the loss.

Teenagers can experience symptoms of depression and have angry outbursts.  They can also be at the opposite end of the spectrum by showing a lack of emotions and feeling numb.  In addition, there can be problems in school with failing grades or delinquent behaviors. Further symptoms showing difficulty processing the loss might include personality changes, self-destructive behaviors (drinking, drugs, etc.), withdrawal and isolation, or even suicidal thoughts. While this is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms, it does give you an idea of how hard the loss of an important relationship can be on a teenager.
Other things that are helpful include:

  • Let your teen know you are available to discuss the feelings of loss (sadness, anger, guilt, etc.).  A school counselor may also be available too.
  • Say good-bye to the friend in some meaningful or symbolic way (i.e., a ceremony – funeral or celebration of life service, a letter, etc.).
  • Do something in remembrance of the person (i.e., a scrapbook, a video, etc.).  If the friend relocated, identify ways to stay in touch (i.e., visits, phone calls, skype, email, texting, facebook, etc.).
  • Identify things to continue doing/living (i.e., daily activities, learning, accepting new friendships and maintaining old ones, etc.).
  • Be honest with your teenager.  Maybe some details are not needed, but honesty is important.

In addition to the ways listed, using books or movies that your teen likes to read or watch is a good way to process loss. For example, if you have a teen who is a reader, my book Starless Sky, would be a good read and a way to open the discussion about similarities in feelings between the main character, Kahlen, and your teen.  Kahlen’s best friend dies and she does not know how to say good-bye or how to let others in; furthermore, her parents struggle with how to help her.  By the end, Kahlen comes to some new realizations and grows as a person who learns to live with the memories of her friend rather than avoid them.  Like many teenagers, Kahlen feels guilty because her friend died, yet she had a chance at life and graduation, and romance, and experiences, and even new friendships. While there is sadness in Kahlen’s story, there is hope and that hope will provide inspiration for any teenager experiencing the loss of a friendship.
Like Kahlen needed, it is important to validate your teen’s feelings of loss.  In validating those feelings, you make it easier for him or her to share with you stories about the friendship, the memories of happy and sad times. As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.”
Finally, remember a psychologist will be a good support person and can provide you with more suggestions and recommendations. Grief and loss is a part of living and unfortunately cannot be avoided, but hopefully knowing loss exists can help us all to love harder and demonstrate it more fully as life is fragile and meant to be lived just as Kahlen did in Starless Sky, just as I did in writing Starless Sky after the loss of my best friend.

To read more go to my website, http://paigeagnew.com/

Listen to my audio excerpt, if you are intrigued to hear more, you can purchase my book there as well.

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Teen Suicide – There is Hope

The reasons behind a teen’s suicide or attempted suicide can be complex, and the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surpassed only by accidents and homicide. The suicide rate for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 skyrocketed 75.9% in 2004, That same year, the suicide rate for female’s ages 15-19 jumped 32.3%, and the rate for males ages 15-19 rose 9%.

While these facts are disturbing, there is hope.

By educating others, and ourselves we can make a difference in preventing youth suicide. Every citizen should understand that while youth suicide is a problem, there is something that can be done about it.

If you suspects that a friend or family member is considering suicide, here are three very important things to do if you notice the warning signs for suicide or the young person tells you directly that they are thinking about suicide.

  1. The first thing is to always show the person that you are concerned about them – listen without judgment, ask about their feelings and avoid trying to come up with a solution to their problem.
  2. Next ask directly about suicide – be direct without being confrontational; say “are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?”
  3. Finally, if the answer to your question is “yes” or you think it is yes, go get help – call a crisis line, visit the school counselor, tell a parent or refer the teen to someone with professional skills to provide help. Never keep talk of suicide a secret!

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP CALL
2-1-1 – LOCAL CRISIS SUPPORT AND SUICIDE INTERVENTION
1-800-435-7609 – NATIONAL ADOLESCENT SUICIDE HOTLINE

What every person can do to help prevent suicide

Show You Care!

Often, suicidal thinking comes from a wish to end deep psychological pain. Death seems like the only way out. But it isn’t. Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

“I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”

”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”

”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”

Ask The Question

Don’t hesitate to raise the subject. Talking with young people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Chances are, if you’ve observed any of the warning signs, they’re already thinking about it. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.

“Are you thinking about suicide?”

”Do you really want to die?”

“Do you want your problems to go away?”

Get Help

Never keep talk of suicide a secret, even if they ask you to. It’s better to risk a friendship than a life. Do not try to handle the situation on your own. You can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills to provide the help that he or she needs, while you continue to offer support.

“I know where we can get some help.”

”Let’s talk to someone who can help…let’s call the crisis line, now.”

“I can go with you to get some help.”

For more information on suicide go to: http://www.kaytrotter.com/suicide.htm

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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