Suicide is complicated. I don’t believe there is just one factor that causes a person to end his/her life. It’s multi-faceted and I believe that in order to get the pendulum to shift away from the rising rates, our approach needs to be multifaceted,as well. We need to look at the big picture and be willing to make changes on many fronts.
Do we need suicide prevention in the schools? Yes
Do we need trauma counselors in our schools? Yes
Do we need to be aware of potential connections between alcohol, firearms, depression and isolation? Yes
Do we need to take a hard look at social media? I think so…
I also think, after talking with students and observing them for so many years in education, we parents have some self-reflection to do.
Many of my students talked about pressure from parents (whether real or perceived) to do well academically, to keep retaking the ACT, to be on select traveling teams, to be involved in so many things that they never have down time, to get athletic scholarships…
Whether we are intending to or not, this is happening. And it is hurting our children. Please trust me on this.
Ask yourself the following questions and then rephrase them to have a conversation with your children.
Does your child enjoy playing that sport year round? Is she exhausted? Is she always fighting injury and asking for a break? Has he said he wants to play in college? Are you the one pushing it?
Are you expecting A’s from your child or for them to truly do their best? Do you keep signing them up to get one or two more points on the ACT? Have they told you where they want to go? Or if college is even what they are called for?
Do you have quality family time where you can sit around the table and talk once in a while or is it drive through, homework in the back seat, and getting home to go to bed?
I don’t put this out to judge. I had many nights of McDonald’s runs and tennis followed by speeding on to the next activity. Parenting is a hard job. We want the best for our children but it has to be within the confines of what is truly best for them as the individuals God made them to be. Not for us to live vicariously through them. Not every child will be an exceptional student but EVERY child can be an exceptional human being.