Teen Suicide – What Can We Do?
There is a lot in the press going on at the moment about an increase in teenagers committing suicide, a recent news report I read stated that the rate has doubled in 8 years.
This is a figure that horrifies me, but I also understand. I struggled as a teenager, it was a really dark period of my life. I completely understand, that being said I managed to come out the other side. However, I do not think I would survive being a teenager in today’s society.
Social media and the internet
I am thankful I grew up before the internet and social media really took off, my room was the one place I could hide, it was my safe place. However, with the rise of the internet and social media, there isn’t really a safe place anymore.
Technology is great, I absolutely love technology and I do not see the harm in children being exposed to technology. There is a dark side to technology. As much as I agree to children being exposed to technology, I believe it should be monitored and controlled.
There is a lot of good stuff on the internet but there is a lot of harmful content as well. It can be hard for an adult to take in all this information, let alone a young mind which is still developing.
This along with the endless content posted where people are richer, more success, and better looking than you, it is a toxic recipe for disaster.
What can we do?
I am quite lucky really; my son is at an age where I still have a lot of control over what he is exposed to. I have however wondered what will happen as he gets older and my control starts to diminish after all my overall goals is to raise him to be an independent fully functional member of society.
I have spoken to a lot of parents with older children and it does seem that in most cases (not all) having consistent boundaries in place when they are young that are carried through towards their life does have a lot of benefits are can make the teen years easier to manage. This is something which is fully supported and endorsed by professionals.
The idea being that children need and crave rules and boundaries, they are however designed to fully push those rules and boundaries in order to understand the world around them. As adults, we are there as a safe place for them to test what is acceptable and what is not. Without rules and boundaries, they will never be able to learn the rules of society and this will cause them to get into trouble further down the line.
Put limits on technology
Once you have established boundaries, you need to limit technology. As I said I am not against technology, however, I believe in a healthy balance of everything, too much of anything is not good for you.
What these boundaries will look like will be different for each family as there will be no one size fits all. If your child is quite good as self-moderating then not much will need to be done, however, if your child spends more time looking at screens than participating in the real world then it is going to be a rough ride but stay strong and remain consistent.
Install a sense of self-worth and individuality
This is probably the most important thing, that children know that they have a lot to offer, they are capable of so much, and that it is OK to be them, they do not have to be like everyone else. There is far too much pressure on everyone to live up to this unrealistic expectation of what ‘perfect’ it. We idolise a bunch of people who we see as ‘perfect’, and yet they only appear perfect because of ‘smoke and mirrors’, take away the editing and filtering and these ‘idols’ are just the same as us mere mortals.
Social media is full of people showing us all their wins, all their successes, everything that is good. However, we always want to hide the bad, we apologise for anything negative. Why? Why is it so bad to fail, why is so bad to struggle, why is being imperfect such a terrible thing?
The truth is we are not always being to be perfect. We are not always going to look good, we are not always going to feel good.
Teach them how to talk
It is OK not to be OK. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK to take a day off and regroup. Failure does not mean you are always destined to fail, just like success does not mean you are always destined to success.
Life is not a straight line, there are good days and bad days. We need to teach our children this. We need to teach them how to win AND how to fail. We need to let them know that whatever is going on in their life, it is OK.
Most of all, we need to teach them that their thoughts and feelings are worth listening to. If they tell you something, and you disagree with it, do not write them off, tell them they are wrong, or dismiss it. Listen to them, talk to them, get to the bottom of their mindset. Why do they feel this way? What can I do to help? What can you do to help/ change things?