Teen Voice on Mental Health & Suicide
I know I am biased because this is written from the perspective of my 14 year old daughter but I thought it was an amazing perspective from a teen on the stigma of mental health and suicide.
"Today I had the amazing opportunity to be able to sit in a room full of people who had insightful perspectives on mental health. I was able to hear their ideas on how to knock down the stigma of just talking about mental health in a normal day to day conversation. As the child of a someone who is informed on mental health and is passionate about mental health, and as a teen, I am able to see a little bit of both opinions. As a teen, I've noticed that so many adults see us as almost an unstable group if you will and what I mean by that is it almost feels as though everyone is waiting to catch you when you fall rather than hold your hand and lead you down the path. Adults automatically think that because someone around you is bad or if a certain group are not good people that you too will fall down that hole and that's not always the case. I think what also causes the stigma for teens and everyone about suicide or mental health in general is that parents and adults try to keep that topic very hush hush. Everyone knows that teens are very impressionable and parents think that we don't listen but we do so much more. We take in everything you do like how you act around certain people, and the way you say certain things. So when we see that a topic such as suicide comes up and everyone tries to turn their heads or change the conversation it unconsciously tells us that we too shouldn't talk about it. We model a lot of what adults do. So a way I think we can stop this from being a taboo topic is to just open up the conversation and show that you are ok with talking about it. Now I don't mean sit down with your child and ask them if they have ever thought about suicide or if they know anyone who has but let it be known that it's an open topic and they can come to you whenever they need to. Also I think it's good to make yourself informed, maybe read an article or talk to a person who knows what they're doing so that if someone like your teen does come to you and asks questions, you'll be able to help them and they'd actually come back to talk to you if you're answers or thoughts are helpful. It makes sense because if you went to a doctor and asked about your health and they just shrugged and said "I don't know", would you go back? Once teens know that it's ok to talk about it, maybe they'll feel more comfortable to go to someone or let someone talk to them because often we teens tend to shut someone out when we don't know what to reply or don't feel comfortable replying. I know that this isn't an overnight project, but hopefully we can eventually start talking about it and who knows, maybe we might even save someone."