"13 Reasons Why" We Need to Listen

The controversial show "13 Reasons Why" has everyone talking about teens and suicide. The series portrays a high school teen, Hannah, who takes her own life after experiencing a downfall of devastating events with 13 individuals. Hannah tells her story from her point of view, about all the people that could have saved her and moments that were most significant. The show demonstrates the importance of empathy, understanding, communication and listening. Had the events in Hannah's life been different, had someone reached out to her, told her how much she was loved and simply listened, she may still be alive.

Although, many clinicians would agree that teens who watch this show may try to mimic Hannah's tragic end; many would also agree that this show may help teens talk about suicide and hopefully adults can learn to listen. The reality is the more we talk about suicide the less it happens.  

Here are just some, 13 to be exact, ways we can try to prevent teen suicide:

1. Connect and reach out to your teen  

2. Trust that they do want your help

3. Encourage them to believe in themselves 

4. Use positive language when speaking to each other 

5. Spend time together, bond over activities you both enjoy 

6. Do not use physical, emotional or mental violence 

7. Be attentive to your teens emotions

8. Learn not to minimize how they feel 

9. Get to know their friends 

10. Learn if they are being bullied at school 

11. Be a positive role model and model behavior that you would expect from them 

12. Communicate and talk about why suicide is not a way out 

13. Listen to how your teen feels and hear what they need 

We can spend time criticizing a show about teen suicide, or we can learn to use it as a tool to teach teens that suicide is not a solution. It is about time we learn to listen and prevent senseless tragedies. Suicide is never the answer. 

Speak Up About Suicide

Not everyone may know, and it is not a cheery topic to talk about but September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Yes, it is not as popular as National Cheeseburger Day or National Dog Day but just as, if not more important. The topic of suicide is one many people believe is taboo. We think that by not speaking about it, it simply does not happen. This is false. 

By speaking and learning about what suicide is and how to prevent it we can pass on tools to help prevent unwanted suicides. Here are some q and a's to help you spread awareness and share the message that everyone's life does matter: 

What is suicide? It is when someone feels as if they have reached their limit. They are past the point of return and want to give up on life. They may feel as if no one cares or pays them any attention. 

What can I do if a friend or family member talks about suicide? Listen. Be understanding and empathetic. Do not try to minimize their emotions or thoughts. Talk about what they think they may gain from suicide. Talk about what they will lose with suicide. Talk about the love and joy they do bring to the world. Make sure you do make them aware that their is help and things can get better. 

What if they have a suicide plan? A suicide plan and intent to act is very dangerous. This is a direct threat and should be treated as such. Do not hesitate to take your loved one to an emergency room or call 911. 

What if talking does not help? Talk about gaining a second opinion and seeking professional help. If the person is not willing to gain help, you also have the option of taking them to the nearest emergency room or calling 911. 

Can therapy help someone who is suicidal? Yes! The therapy has to be intensive and positive. It can work over time but the difficulty with suicide is that it is an immediate danger. The sooner it is addressed, the better. 

Now that you can help your loved ones, please share this with others. Spread awareness about suicide prevention by simply, talking about it. Do not be shy, talk about how you feel and what you know. Starting a conversation can help slowly reduce suicide and improve mental health for everyone. 

 

How is your teens self esteem?

As parents most of you believe you are in touch with your teen and would be able to tell if there was a problem growing at school or at home. One of the easiest ways to be aware about how your teen is feeling is to pay attention to how self confident they are feeling or acting.  Is your teen isolated, have little to no friends, are they talkative, are they moody or do you simply not know any of these answers? 

If you are unsure of your teen's self esteem level, here are some steps you can take to learn about their self confidence: 

1. Keep an open dialect: Ask, listen and summarize when you have conversations. This will help establish trust and keep your relationship growing. If they are answering poorly or barely answering, they may be hiding their low self esteem. If they are talking to you, you can learn about their self esteem just by listening.  

2. Meet their friends: They spend about half their time at school with their friends. Ask them to invite friends over, meet their friends and get to know them. Learn what their hobbies and interests are. Are your teens friends involve din drug use or sexual activity? If yes, this can be a sign of low self esteem. Judge as a parent how your teen is choosing friends and if they are genuine. 

3. Be observant: Look for signs of unhappiness, worry, sadness or anger. Mood swings to a certain extent are common in teens but if it is prolonged or excessive this can be a sign of anxiety or depression. 

Use the above steps to recognize your teens self esteem. Repeat the steps until you see that your teen is confident, if you see warning signs that your teen has low self esteem do not feel frustrated. Pick up the phone and do not hesitate to contact a professional! 

10 Tips for Parenting Kids with ADHD

1. Organize yourself: Place backpacks, clothing and toys in the same place everyday 

2. Avoid becoming distracted: Do not turn on the TV, MP3 or computer while completing another task 

3. Limit your choices: Offer children a choice between no more than two items (food, clothing, toy...) 

4. Communicate tasks as simple as possible: Use clear, brief and concise directions 

5. Have a reward system: Use charts and list realistic attainable goals and track positive behavior

6. Discipline effectively: Do not use spanking or yelling, instead have limited timeouts and remove privileges as a consequence 

7. Have a routine: Follow the most similar structure daily 

8. Use positive language: Tell your child what you want them to do, not what you want them to not do 

9.  Do not blame: Blaming children will negatively impact their self esteem 

10. Be hands on: Have fun, play outside and save some time during the day for just your child (no distractions)