Fear vs. Dreams
This Sunday, February 25, we have planned a wonderful and life-giving Life Night focused on beginning conversation with the teens regarding suicide and depression. Our goal is to educate the teens on what to do if they or a friend is depressed or suicidal, and clear up misconceptions in regard to Church teaching on suicide.
I recently read, “Teen suicide has been on the rise in recent years and sadly, TWEEN suicide (children ages 10-14) has doubled since 2009. For much of this, social media has been blamed: specifically, since rates have risen so sharply (doubling in the 10-14 age group) since the advent of the smart phone. Cyber bullying and the pressure to have a picture-perfect life for social media has led many young people to have mental health problems that lead to teen suicide.”
There are also so many pressures on our kids to be THE best; be the best in school, take a crazy amount of AP classes, score through the roof on ACT and SAT tests, be the best at sports, or whatever. The list goes on. I have witnessed my own teenage daughter experience times in her life when she felt like she was just going to ‘break.’ As a parent, you know the feeling of your own heart breaking when you see your child hurting. Sometimes, the pain they feel needs some extra special attention. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to include the heavy topics of suicide and depression in our “Pro-Life” semester.
Suicide and depression are two issues that are often kept in the dark and not spoken about. For many teens, these are uncomfortable topics, but ones that are vitally important to start bringing to light. This night addresses the importance of discussing these topics in hopes of breaking down the stigma that prevents people from getting the help that they need and deserve. Because this Life Night may stir up some emotions in the teens, especially in light of recent events that hit very close to home, namely the tragic deaths of two young men at Berkshire High School, we will have Phil Flauto, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, present for and immediately after the Life Night. Phil will also be available to answer any questions or concerns you have regarding these issues. So, please feel welcome to attend this Sunday’s Parent Life gathering in the bride’s room (7-8:30pm).
I encourage you, as parents, to follow up with your teens and discuss this subject. In your conversations with your teens, it is important that they know they can come to you if they are ever feeling really low, or if they think one of their friends is depressed or suicidal.
Here are some of the key concepts we will be hitting upon with your teens:
Definition of depression and causes, statistics on depression and suicide. You are not alone! It’s normal to have periods of sadness or to feel down, but know when is too long. Depression doesn’t define you and won’t last forever. Suicide and depression can be prevented with awareness and the right treatment. Suffering from mental health issues is just as real as suffering from cancer. Talking about our issues is the key to getting help and healing. What are the symptoms of depression in teens? What are the warning signs of suicide (verbal and behavioral clues)? What to do if you feel depressed or are having thoughts of suicide. What to do of one of your friends indicates they are depressed or suicidal. Never joke about suicide or tell someone to kill themselves.
Misconceptions that exist about our relationship between our faith and depression and suicide. Why we should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives, realizing that taking life is always wrong but only God knows how responsible someone is for the actions they take. But, know that suicide is never a way out or an excuse.
Our lives matter! God has a plan for our lives and He created each of us on purpose! Every person is a child of God. Every person has a story and is important and loved in the eyes of God. Each of our stories are important in God’s plan for salvation.
Teens are not alone in any trial they face; they have the community of the Church and Christ to rely on.
If a teen is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, talking about his/her feelings is the first courageous step to recovery.
Here are a few sample questions to start an honest discussion at home:
I love you,
For I am the Lord, your God,
who grasps your right hand;
It is I who say to you, Do not fear,
I will help you! ~ Isaiah 41:13
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