Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When Hope Seems Far Away

Last week, a 17 year old young man felt hopeless. He solved the problem by hanging himself on the monkey bars at a local elementary school. What prompted this act was a break up with his girlfriend. This is common among teens. This young man's attempt was carried out to its fulfillment. Many more attempts are made but not successful, meaning the person survives. Teens consider suicide every day all across the country. At at suicide prevention symposium in Austin, staff from the JED Foundation stated suicide is thought of on an average of 3 times a day by college aged students. Most parents surveyed stated they do not believe their child would ever consider suicide. There is an obvious disconnect between reality and parent perception. All suicide is a tragedy in that suicides can be prevented with simple interventions anyone can do. The main one is to ask the question. It is a difficult question to ask. "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" Imagine asking that of your 13 year old. You'll probably get "no" the first time, and maybe even the second. But what if you don't? What if the answer is "yes, I want to kill myself." Then what? It isn't always necessary to get someone to a professional that can put them into a hospital. It can be as simple as letting them talk about why they are feeling so much despair. No one wants to be considered crazy. No one wants to be considered weak. Everyone has trouble coping. This is fact. Everyone also is really good at pretending they have it all together. More people are struggling than you would believe possible. Those that can effectively handle stressors are those who feel they can talk about it with someone. They don't want solutions, they just need someone to take the time to listen, to let them know they are important enough for someone to take time for them. Sometimes, that is all it takes. At other times, we may need to go a little farther and call someone to come help. That does not mean to haul someone away against their will to a mental health hospital. That could be the absolute wrong thing to do. It does mean, get someone to stay with the person, to talk with them, listen to them or just be there with them. People talk about suicide every day. If something goes wrong, an accepted response is "just kill me now!' or "if that happens I'll just die". This is far different from a person who is actively considering killing themselves. We as fellow travelers on this road called life have a responsibility to each other to really listen. We need to listen to not only the words bu the body language and the tone. We need to be there for support and to help when we can. Suicide is a rapidly growing permanent solution to a temporary problem. I am sure the family of the teenager who chose this option to end his pain, would love to have another chance to offer other options. Never take someone in your life for granted. Let them know they are cared for and are valued every chance you get. Let people know they matter. We all need to be valued by those around us. Otherwise what is the point? For more information about preventing suicide and the warning signs go to

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