Here’s one of several great videos recently released… and this link to a great website called “Press Pause.” There are more short videos on the topics of dealing with anger and schedule overload. These are created by “Half of Us.” I’m impressed with both of these sites and their content/approach–easy to navigate, bite-sized chunks of practical support and advice!
The reactions to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas have certainly been varied. Thanks in a large part to the ongoing media coverage, it remains a focal point for many. It, therefore, seems fitting to share several thoughts, including this paragraph from a recent J.E.D. Foundation blog post:
At a time like this, the simple things will help – don’t hold feelings in, talk to friends, family and loved ones. Turn off the TV, computer, and phone. Get up and get out – tragedies can weigh so heavily on us that it makes it hard to move. Take a walk, go to the gym, run errands, spend time with friends, volunteer to help. And lastly, everyone should take care of themselves and those around them – physical health and emotional connectedness can go a long way toward making you feel like yourself again.
During last night’s Suicided Awareness and Prevention Workshop we discussed briefly the potential impact events like this have on children. It is so important to remember they are watching and listening and may be much more aware of news and incidents than we might think at first. If it is difficult for an adult to process the “why” of an incident like this, consider how much more so it may be for young people. This is a time when we should look out for our children.
I published a post from Edutopia (an excellent resource for teachers and parents, by the way) on Mr. Boomsma’s Facebook Page. Entitled “Responding to Tragedy: Resources for Educators and Parents.” When time permits, I will be adding many of those resources to this website.
As a general guideline, I encourage adults to listen and watch for signs that a child is struggling to come to terms with the incident. It is not necessary to “force” a child a think or talk about it, but it is important to be willing to listen and answer questions. You don’t have to have all the answers. Provide reassurance and gently shift the focus to the positives. In children’s terms, “Let’s look for the helpers.”
That’s actually pretty good advice for all of us.
“Did you know that eating mashed potatoes causes Alzheimer’s?” During one of my annual checkups I told my doctor this–he looked at me in disbelief and asked why I thought that. I replied, “Well, everyone I know with Alzheimer’s has eaten mashed potatoes.”
He laughed and called me a statistical nihilist. I replied that I was merely trying to distinguish between “cause and correlation” since he had been citing some statistical risk factors I have. (This was, by the way, a very friendly conversation.)
With that background, I offer some statistics recently published by NAMI. With the notation that all statistics have limitations, I have confidence in their accuracy.
I do not “enjoy” publishing statistics like this and I confess I find myself sometimes wondering if their publication accomplishes the intent. If it’s not clear, the intent of this infographic is to encourage people to sign up for a Youth Mental First Aid Course.
I’ve taken it; it’s a good course and I highly recommend it. I truly believe, as the infographic suggests, it can help those who take it start a conversation that could save a life. Make no mistake, I’m not at all critical of the course or its intent. But if I’m going to be totally honest, I firmly believe more is needed.
Without opening a debate about the causes of mental illness, what we are looking at here is identifying a high-risk population. The question that is not being asked is “Why?” and “Are there are actions we could be taking that will reduce that high-risk population?”
I’m a bit troubled by the medical community’s increasing reliance on statistics. The conversation I cited at the beginning took place in part because my doctor was assessing my risk factors for certain health issues. Because data is so readily available, it’s in danger of becoming the holy grail. What happened to science and simple logic?
But I digress, probably because I don’t fully understand our approach to suicide prevention. We are very focused on crisis intervention. Again, that’s not a bad thing. But I see it as comparable to sending someone to the dentist when they have a toothache. Not a bad idea, certainly, but let’s not omit the importance of oral hygiene–aka brushing and flossing.
So why aren’t we teaching kids (and adults) how to “brush and floss” their minds? If we truly are committed to preventing suicide, can we back up and prevent the crisis? In much the same way we can avoid trips to the dentist with good oral hygiene, we just might avoid some of those 5,240 attempts in grades 7 – 12 every year by teaching and encouraging good mental hygiene starting at a very early age.
I’ll repeat–crisis intervention is valid and important. I’m simply using the occasion of “mental health month” to suggest we might be a bit more passionate, excited, and enthusiastic in some positive ways. If kids can learn how to take care of their teeth, they can learn how to take care of their minds.
Perhaps the bigger question is, “Can we teach them how?”
Again this fall, I’m pleased to offer several opportunities for anyone interested in learning some facts about suicide and steps to prevent it. This workshop also meets the requirements of LD 609 for public school system employees who must have a minimum of 90 minutes of training every five years.
- Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at 6:30 p.m.
Both programs are hosted by the Guilford United Methodist Church and there is no charge to attend! Call me at 343-1842 or visit my site for information and to register.
- Thursday, September 12, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Contact RSU 19 Adult Ed at 207 368-3290 for more information or to register.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Contact MSAD 53 Adult Ed at 207 487-5145 for more information or to register.
This may not be your style of music… but it is another way to deliver a very important message. “You are not alone.” Don’t politicize it. Watch and listen… see the woman crying and hear messages like “What is a day without night.”