Did you know that child suicide rates are steadily increasing? Statistics reveal that from 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the United States…[meaning] one child under 13 died of suicide nearly every five days”. (CNN, 2017)
Wow that’s something to really take in.
When we think about suicide, often there’s an image associated with “lonely depressed teen” or “unaccomplished adult”. But do we ever consider to think about people of all backgrounds, and of all ages?
Who Or What Is At Fault?
(Before moving forward with this post, please be aware that I am only going based off of external and environmental affects. I am not aware of the hereditary causes, in which chemical imbalances are the result of poor mental health. If you are well informed of any clinical reasoning, please feel free to share in the comments.)
The unfortunate truth is that the seed of depression and anxiety is born young.
Childhood, as we all know, is an important stage in our lives that define more or less what will become of us as adults. The morals and values instilled from the time we are young influence the decision making that comes about when we are older. For this reason it is important that children are around positive and loving people; placed in an environment that promotes confidence, growth and security.
Unfortunately in such a fallen world, it is so common for kids to be exposed to brokenness at such an early age. Whether it be….
- Growing up in a (toxic) home mirroring instability, dysfunction and conditional love.
- Not having fit or adequate role models to shape an adequate image of self love.
- Being around hurt individuals who’ve been pained and neglected by their caregivers/guardians and loved ones, and so give what they have received.
- Experiencing bullying in the school environment, which is meant to be a safe space for children.
- Believing (without question) information fed to us via education, government and media.
(The list can go on and on with everyone having different experiences relative to their own live stories.)
The state of a child is pure and innocent, but when corrupted, we ruin the chance of the next generation receiving any hope. Sadly for many young children, they never get to experience life; cutting their span on this Earth short.
What Can We Do To Become More Aware?
Take note in any behavioral, social or psychological changes your child/sibling/relative/etc. show:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping more
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Poor self image
- Anger or sadness
- Writing, talking or thinking about death/suicide
(Personal disclaimer: I know when I was battling young, I use to write a lot of what I felt in my diary. I used to write about all the things I disliked about myself, what “could’ve been better” and how life just wasn’t getting better. This is not to say that ever kid will do so, nor is this to say that you should just go in and invade someone’s privacy. But the evidence is always there, it just takes some digging to notice.)
Ask your child how they’re really doing in school. Chances are they could be facing rejection and harassment.
It’s no surprise that bullying has (and sad to say will always be) a huge problem. And what’s even more disappointing is how many teachers turn a blind eye. We can sit here and say “we don’t see it” but the reality is that there are many instructors who do not want to speak out, for reasons that can vary from protecting the image of the school and simply not wanting to become involved.
And this is not to say that we should stop our concern at if they are bullied because what if they are the ones bullying?
What if their parents or other loved ones filling their children’s head with toxicity? And worse, what if their parents are in in denial because “it certainly isn’t their kid with the problem“.
Talk with Your Child
It’s okay to have conversations to check up on them. We should be making sure that people are okay.
I think many times we disregard the way children feel because they are young. Times when they are trying to tell you something, you dismiss it or see it as rude. But what if they are affected by your actions? What if you are speaking to them negatively, and are making them feel bad about themselves?
Seeking Therapy is perfectly okay!
Often, therapy and counseling get a bad rep when in reality there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. In fact, we should be checking in with doctors for mental health as much as we do with physical checkups.
Sometimes the way we think can be detrimental to our daily performance and cognitive functioning. And it is through talking to a professional that we can not only vent out our concerns, but come up with steps and coping skills to think and behave healthier.
In a society that is becoming more increasingly aware of the issues ignored, it is important that we continue to do our part in bringing these concerns to life.
As young adults, not just older adults, we have a social responsibility role to play as modeled figures. We should continue encouraging kids to be themselves. We should be reinforcing assertiveness, and teaching kids to stand up for themselves. We should be reminding kids of how beautiful and gifted they are. We should be making it comfortable for children to use their voice and ask for help.
It starts with small conversation, and continues with genuine concern. We must fight for our children’s mental health because they are the future of this society.