Seeking Answers from Social MediaOften, it may seem that teenagers are much more knowledgeable than their parents, especially regarding technology. However, when it comes to searching out information teens often choose to go to their social media of choice and ask the questions they are afraid to ask their parents. This creates a cycle of children giving answers to children and often making the situation worse. Pay attention to the virtual social circles and the everyday socialization your teen exposes themselves to. Are they constantly watching Manga (Japanese Graphic Novels that are known for their theme of suicide.) Are they on social media listening to other people talk about and discuss suicide, or are watching other teens talk about parents not accepting their gender choice? These are factors that can contribute to higher anxiety and depression, which contribute to suicidal tendencies.
Self Care and Mental HealthAs parents, it is our goal to raise healthy and happy children. This includes teaching them about self-care and the importance of mental health. We aren’t always the best models because we are constantly placing our children before us. However, self-care and positive mental health practices can become part of family practices and will benefit everyone. Here are some ways to support self-care:
- Create positive social opportunities to hang out with friends or family
- Cuddle a pet
- Downtime, like sleeping in and relaxing, is important. It’s okay to slow down and take a day to relax, sleep and disconnect from the world.
- Practice mindful meditation, stretching, or yoga
- Take time to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
- Plan for at least 20 minutes of personal time
- Take a hike or spend time outside
- Limit phone time or at least have your teen put down their phone during dinner or other family time.
What to say to a teenager that is suicidal?Here are a few tips that can help you speak to any teenager feeling suicidal:
- Normalize the feelings of sadness and depression. Assure your teen that mental health is an illness. It is like a broken leg; with time and the proper care, they will start feeling better.
- Actively listen and respect what your teen is saying, even if you disagree or don’t see things similarly. What they are feeling is very real and very upsetting. Try not to diminish their feelings.
- Ask questions. Do they know what might make them feel better? Are they aware of the options available to them? If they don’t know, reassure them that you will help them find the answers.
- It’s okay to tell your child that it worries you that they feel this way and reassure them that they are loved and have a strong support system to get through this difficult time.
- Learn about the issue. Together seek answers and have discussions. Watch your child closely.
- Seek Professional help. Acknowledge that you may not be qualified to help and encourage your child to seek counseling. Having a neutral confidant can be extremely healthy.