The suicide rate in the United States has increased steadily over the last two decades, with suicide as the 10th leading cause of death overall in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To control this alarming situation, September is considered as the National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. During this month, events and activities are held so as to increase the awareness about suicide prevention.
The actual matter of concern is the undeniable fact that elementary school student's suicides have increased up to 2 folds in the last decade. Suicide is the third reason of deaths in the 10-14 (grade 4-grade 8) age group. Do these kids even know the meaning of death and understand the perpetuity of death?
Why is suicidal behavior increasing among elementary school children?
The reasons behind suicidal behavior among elementary school children vary from a small unfinished goal to loss of someone close to their heart. This simply portrays lack of endurance and strength of pulling oneself together in tough times. Any activity happening around them that can affect them negatively and be a cause of suicidal behavior. Elementary school children suicidal behavior might not make sense but these kids become mentally ill suicide attempting adolescents or adults. Every person needs to understand how important it is to eradicate the roots of mental illness during the elementary years of a child.
Does this mean we need to keep children in an environment insulated from pain? Do we hide from them the reality of life? Or do we train them to deal with hard-hitting circumstances and build their mental health strong enough to not be shaken by any up and downs and prove the survival of the fittest.
How to change the alarming situation and prevent suicides?
"Words can inspire, Words can destroy. Choose yours well."
Talking about mental diseases or suicidal behavior is not dangerous, rather it is precautionary. Talking to an elementary child about depression and pain endurance is fine, because explaining and modifying the mindset of a young kid is easier than doing it with adolescents and adults.
There are some key points that you need to keep in mind before having a conversation with them. You must educate yourself first, and set a limit to which extent you can have a discussion, make sure not to talk about ways of attempting suicide and choose your words wisely- you might hit a nerve.
- Teach self-assurance:
The most important form of love is self-love. It can motivate a child on the darkest days to get up from the bed and stay happy and healthy. Self-assurance can greatly help fight depression and cure all the mental diseases. If a person loves someone, they cannot let that someone to be in pain and discomfort. Make children understand to be their own 'someones' and love their own selves more than anything is this world. Let these values grow in the hearts of children so they become healthy, self-assuring adults and spread positivity all along their way of life.
- Promote meditation:
"Meditation trains the brain to achieve sustained focus, and to return to that focus when negative thinking, emotions, and physical sensations intrude — which happens a lot when you feel stressed and anxious," says Dr. John W. Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Meditation is simply noticing the thoughts and acting on them. If one can notice their stressful thoughts and change them to positive thoughts, depression would leave humankind all happy and contented.
- Observe symptoms and act accordingly:
4 out of 5 mentally ill children give clear indications about their disease. We as parents just need to take those indications thoughtfully and understand criticality of the situation. Parents and teachers, at home and at school must not just listen to the words of children but also observe them, how often do they pass negative statements about themselves, or how easily do they get hurt. These parameters can give you a clear estimate of how badly does your child needs your help.
Once you feel a child needs some attention for his mental illness, you immediately counsel him and take the further procedure if necessary.
It is not just about your own child or your students, it is about absolutely all the children who are around you, be kind with them, love them, talk to them and do not let them feel depressed.
- Encourage to take help:
Asking for help is itself a brave move and it requires motivation and encouragement. Not all can ask for help easily. Training a child that it is good to take help from others will convince him to ask for help when he actually needs it. During tough times, the children must know when and how to ask for help.
Also, it is very important for parents and teachers to understand how to respond them. Proper response can save them from being suicidal, and an improper response can have many adverse effects not to be spoken of. After all, children will listen after they feel listened to.
Children are not only innocent and curious but also optimistic and joyful and essentially happy. They are, in short, everything adults wish they could be.
Let them be the same.
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