As painful as it is to consider, abundant data tells us that childhood suicide is a reality. My heart aches as I process this information. Children should be immune to the kind of pain that would prompt a suicide solution. Unfortunately for us all, children are not immune to extreme bouts of mental and emotional pain. Most of the data and research deals with preteen and teenage children, who are being bullied or are having relationship problems of one sort or another, often with their peers. Almost all of these preteen and teenage children suffer from depression and/or anxiety as well. More recently, studies have begun of children 5-11 years of age who commit suicide. Can you even begin to imagine that a five year old could be in that much pain, let alone know how to carry out the action of taking his/her own life?
Yes, there is a lot of data on childhood suicides, but more important for this writing is the information about how to detect and treat the causes that lead to thoughts and acts of suicide by very young children. It is critical for parents to understand the signs that appear when a child is having extreme emotional problems and considering suicide, and to know how to support them and get help for them.
According to an article in Psychology Today, if you notice changes in a child’s behavior such as in sleeping patterns, eating habits, or socialization patterns, take action to delve deeper to find out what is going on with your child. Experts in this field say that parents should not be afraid to talk to their children about suicide. According to the experts, ask direct questions about your child’s thoughts regarding suicide, and talk openly about whether or not your child is considering this as a solution to his/her emotional pain. Parents should not hesitate to discuss the permanency of suicide with their children. Some young children do not understand that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Contact the child’s physician and let them know what is going on. Contact a child psychologist and make an appointment for the child. Spend enjoyable time with the child. Reassure your child that he/she is very precious to you and you are always there to help them work out a positive solution to their issues.
It is very important to take any expression by your child about suicide absolutely seriously. Your child is suffering and needs help.
Center For Suicide Prevention
I believe that it is important to live each day completely and enjoy the richness that is our lives. However, there are times in the life of someone who battles mental illness when living each day completely is simply impossible. There are days when nothing feels right. Nothing provides a feeling of happiness. Nothing provides positive energy. The inability to function in a normal way results from the feeling that a huge truck is parked on our head. As I think about those excruciating days, I keep seeing a tiny person with HUGE feet trudging through a bog of mud, lifting each foot with great effort, and whomping them down again into the muck. Imagine this tiny person with huge feet lifting and whomping and lifting and whomping over and over and getting nowhere. One becomes frustrated, exhausted, and even paralyzed from being unable to take action.
Take a moment and try to imagine this kind of pain and how it might feel. Take another moment and imagine plodding through and moving past that pain. Imagine that you want so desperately to be whole again, but the stigma of mental illness keeps you from acknowledging the issue. Imagine ignoring that stigma. Imagine the benefits of getting the needed help. Imagine a day without sadness. Imagine a day without anxiety and fear. Imagine a day with a clear mind. Imagine feeling happy again. Imagine life with a smile. Imagine.
I believe that it is important to live each day completely. I believe that each day is a gift and should be cherished. I believe that each day offers blessings. We need to appreciate them. I believe that every day should contain a challenge. I believe the challenges enrich our lives. I believe that our biggest challenges can be our biggest teachers. I believe that we learn our most important lessons when we least expect to be learning anything. I believe when we talk about our challenges, they become more surmountable. I believe that if we are blessed by age, we should cherish each added year. I believe in “not hiding” the cracks in our lives. I believe in improving ourselves. I believe that others see us in a kinder light than we see ourselves. I believe it takes more energy to hate than to forgive. I believe that what we accomplish in a day is more important than what was left undone. I believe that the sky is the limit. I believe we control our limits by how far we allow ourselves to push the edges of our world. I believe in communication and compromise. I believe that no one knows what you are thinking or how you are feeling if you do not tell them. I believe that realizing these beliefs is often difficult. I believe in learning to help yourself whenever roadblocks occur. I believe that helping yourself includes reaching out to others for support. I believe there is often stigma attached to reaching out for support. I believe that without the fear of stigma more people would seek the support they need. I believe our goal in life should be to live the best life possible – whatever that takes.
This week marks the one year anniversary of my writing this blog, anxietymusings.wordpress.com. This blog was started as an assist to help me stand up to and eliminate the stigma that is attached to mental health illness. Having an anxiety disorder, I was very aware of this stigma, and wanted to be proactive in helping to reduce the stigma, and perhaps one day get rid of it entirely. Until this moment, I have been using a pen name to sign my posts, but it is time for me to come out of the closet from where I have been writing, and to write under my given name. Close friends and most of my family knew that I was writing about mental health issues. But I justified not using my own name to the wider audience because I was protecting my family. I did not want any possible backlash to affect them. The real truth is that I was not ready to open up to the world. I was scared of the stigma. Today I am ready.
My name is Leslie Pontz.
Below are related links.
On May 1, my mom had a stroke. As sudden illnesses typically do, it took us totally by surprise, especially since this 93 year old woman was driving, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning her own apartment just a few hours earlier. As one of her three progeny, I was helping to gather information, make decisions, be an advocate for her care, and participating in the cheerleading squad working towards her recovery. The picture was bleak, and my sister and I were stretched thin.
I am not writing to tell you about the amazing recovery of a determined woman, but to confide in all of you that I was scared. I was scared, not only for my mom, but for me. I was afraid that the intensity of this medical situation would weigh heavily on me, and I would end up in the depths of another anxiety event. That scared me more than the prospect of dealing with all the details of a hospital stay and the accompanying decisions.
Although I did have some anxiety issues, I was able to easily work my way through these reminders of my illness. This recent episode is also a reminder that this illness is a lifetime commitment that can be managed with the appropriate tools.
Below are a few organizations that can help you find the appropriate tools.
Hugh Laurie is a well-known British actor who has struggled with depression for years. Mr. Laurie played the lead doctor on the USA Network television show House. He doesn’t like to talk about his depression, not because he is ashamed of it, but because he doesn’t feel that he has the right to complain about his personal situation inasmuch as he has been so successful in his professional life. Well, Mr. Laurie’s professional success does not have anything to do with his right to complain about his mental health. Speaking personally, I remember when I went through my first bout with anxiety and depression, I felt that I could not complain either. I had a wonderful home, husband, and family, and was otherwise very healthy. I repeated that story to myself over and over. It didn’t help at all. I was still depressed.
When my first bout with depression hit, it was during the summer Olympics of 1996. I remember listening to all the hard-luck stories of the athletes, thinking, “What right did I have to complain?” These athletes had experienced worse challenges than I was experiencing. They had been separated from family, suffered debilitating injuries, lost a parent, or lost a sibling. Over and over I repeated my mantra – “others have it worse – my life is good – others have it worse – my life is good.” But you know what? It did not help. What eventually did help was to seek a solution for myself that would enable me to deal with my own situation. I didn’t need to feel bad that I was feeling bad. At the same time, I realized that everyone has his or her own challenge, and one’s own challenge is a legitimate source of discomfort for that person. Everyone has the right to have his/her own pain. Everyone, rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful, loved or not loved, has a right to feel bad about the difficulty of his/her particular challenge. What is not acceptable is to do nothing about meeting that challenge, and finding a solution to the pain.
Hugh Laurie could potentially be a lot of help if he shared his story. People listen to celebrities and take solace in knowing that famous and successful people also suffer human issues just like the rest of us. The rest of us rationalize that if someone like Hugh Laurie is not immune from depression, then it is okay for us to suffer from depression. Perhaps Mr. Laurie’s candor would encourage other people to seek the help needed for healing and having a better life.
While I was doing research online for my blog, I discovered quite a few organizations that were established specifically to speak to the issue that is so near and dear to my heart. GET RID OF THE STIGMA THAT SURROUNDS MENTAL HEALTH DISEASE. There are more advocates speaking up about that stigma than I ever imagined, and I happily read their websites for hours, truly excited about finding this treasure trove of validation.
Brandon Marshall, in conjunction with his wife Michi, started Project 375, an organization whose sole purpose is to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health illness. Marshall himself had shown signs of erratic behavior, but thought he needed to tough it out and remain stoic in the face of his problems. That stoicism was not working. In 2011, Marshall, a highly respected NFL wide receiver, had a decision to make. Either get the help he needed for his erratic behavior, or Michi was leaving. Devastated by the possibility of losing his wife, Marshall checked himself into a psychiatric hospital, and there he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. He spent the next three months at the hospital getting therapy, during which time Marshall realized that being stoic was not the same as being strong. Instead, he found that it took strength and courage to own his illness and get the help that he desperately needed. After a period in therapy, his personal and professional life began to stabilize. As a result of the progress that Michi witnessed, Michi and Brandon reunited. Marshall and Michi now speak out about his disease, their journey, and the mission of Project 375 to eradicate the stigma of mental health disease and disorders. Project 375 is making a particular effort to reach out to the male population that is resistant to owning any mental health issues. Through their programs, Brandon and Michi are trying to educate men to understand that it takes strength, not weakness, to seek the help needed to learn how to live with a mental health disorder. I was very impressed with this organization and its goal of promoting healing through understanding, and promoting the principle of speaking out and speaking up – of coming out of that old stuffy closet. Continue reading Speaking Out And Speaking Up