Category Archives: Human Interest

Gone Before Grown

By: JD Author, Reporter-Journalist

“Sadly enough, the most painful goodbyes are the ones that are left unsaid and never explained.”
― Jonathan Harnisch

 

 

When we think of the loss of a teenager, the first thing that comes to mind is “what horrible disease is taking so many of our precious youth from us”?  As of July 2016, the American Association of Pediatrics has established that suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens in America, rising above homicide.   Which is up from 2006, where it was listed as the third leading cause.

Research has shown that there are many risk factors for suicide. Things such as, but not limited to; a family history of depression related suicide, a history of sexual abuse, mood and mental disorders, sexual orientation acceptance or transgender identification, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, to name a few.  An important additional risk factor that has become rampant over the last several years is bullying.

As we look at the many factors that play a role in the lives of adolescents and the need to feel accepted among their peers, we can see why helping to build their self-esteem and confidence is a vital part of helping them to cope with what is troubling them emotionally.

Bullying is at a record high and adolescents are influenced to “fit” into a social acceptance category based on the medias version of what should be the “norm”, is at an all-time high.

Remember back in the day, when you were a teenager and wanted to feel like you fit in?  We had bullies back in the 60’s and 70’s, but if our parents found out we picked on someone who was different, boy were we in trouble!  We didn’t have to all be the perfect size, wear the fanciest designer jeans, sport the athlete endorsed sneakers, be attracted to only the opposite sex, for our friends to like us.  If we were raised properly, we knew we were not all alike.  When we were caught bullying someone, there were repercussions.

Don’t take me wrong, there were bullies among teens back then too, it was just a lot harder to get away with it.  We didn’t have cell phones to send messages and pictures to people or post to social media, we had to actually write notes, call on a house phone and hope our parents didn’t hear us, or do it face to face and hope word didn’t spread we were being jerks.  I am sure many suicides were contributed to this meanness as well.  Suicide was not spoken of by families, because it was looked on as a sign of “mental illness, or “their family has issues” and how dare anyone know that our family were not just like the television sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver.

In current times, television shows are geared towards youth audiences that depict teens in their social settings, being popular and having the latest and newest clothing, electronics, cool friends and being top in the sport of their choice. They depict girls with perfect figures, dating the great looking jocks, and their parents drove fancy cars when they dropped them off at the mall to spent their large allowances. In all reality, that world only exists for the 1% of teens that feel entitled and usually are the ones bullying the most.  Leaving the teen that does not have that lifestyle feeling a sense of poor self-worth.  They feel others see them as inadequate, depressed and worthless.

There are many groups and organizations reaching out to educate teens on how to recognize bullying, and speaking out when they see someone being bullied, yet it seems as if it is not enough.  We need to reach parents too.  Research has shown that, most teens who bully, have in one way or another “learned” that bullying is acceptable through mixed messages from their own parental figures.  Some teens see their parents being overly aggressive towards others, even mocking those of lesser financial standing or social status, and carry through in their own actions by learning from that bad example.  Some have even been bullied themselves and as a coping mechanism to feel better about themselves, will bully others as a mechanism of lashing out.

Suicide among teens is not just a result of bullying.  Some teens lack self-esteem, because of size, stature or deformities, and have not learned coping mechanisms or means to accept themselves for who they are.  Parents can be a key player in helping their teen learn to accept themselves for the beautiful people they are inside, but not all efforts are successful.

We as adults need to be aware and pay attention to teens in our lives.  Look for changes in behavior, changes in friends and if our teens or teens we are around tend to be more withdrawn, we need to do what we can to understand what is going on in their lives.  We need to take the time to understand them without being overly invasive, and supportively listen.  When necessary, seek intervention.

Here are a few great tell-tale signs I found online that will help you as a parent, relative or youth worker recognize when a teen needs help coping, or intervention, before they get to the point of feeling there is no hope and that suicide is the only answer to their problems.  Also listed are tell-tale signs that your teen or a teen you know may be bullying someone else, which could result in that teen committing suicide.  It would be sad to know if we turned a blind eye to our teen if we allowed them to bully someone else to the point they took their own life, and we did nothing.  Culpability would be ours for doing nothing to prevent it.

The following are some factors that may put your teen at risk for the dangerous behaviors or feeling inadequate and hopeless:

Previous victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse: Victims of abuse often have low self-esteem and self-worth, making them more susceptible to troubled behavior in their teen and adult years.

History of violence or anger: It is not uncommon for a violent child to grow into a violent teen. If your child has a history of aggression or anger, watch them closely to see how they handle themselves in stressful situations as they grow older.

Stressful home life: Divorce, financial problems or violence in the home are all factors that put a teen at risk for rebellious or “troubled” behavior.

Substance abuse: Use of drugs and alcohol heighten the risk of every behavior listed above. Even if your teen is “just experimenting,” it’s best to treat these as serious warning signs and be vigilant in working to curb these activities.

The following are some troubled teen warning signs and risk factors that indicate you may have a troubled youth in need of some extra help or perhaps some may be signs you have a bully in the making:

Extreme moods: Teens are going to be moody—their bodies and hormones are changing and this is natural. But extreme fits of anger, long bouts of sadness, seeming hatred towards family members and a consistently disrespectful attitude are perhaps warning signs that something deeper is going on. Pay attention to your teen’s mood swings to try to determine what some of their “triggers” are. If the extreme moods continue for months in the absence of logical triggers, it may be time to explore the possibility of a mental health disorder or more complex behavioral problem.

Unexplained large sums of money: Is your unemployed or minimum wage-earning teen showing up at home with expensive jewelry, new gadgets or fancy clothes you’ve never seen? Unexplained money, coupled with a withdrawn and defiant teen, can often be the sign of a more serious issue like bullying money out of others. Teens living this lifestyle may also seem to lose money or valuables very quickly, as they trade it for drugs, to cope with their inner pain or are in unsafe situations where they have things stolen.

Unhealthy obsession with new friend group: When your child enters middle school and high school they will inevitably meet new friends. This is good. But is your teen changing their behavior, appearance, or values to fit in with a new group of friends? This could be a sign of unhealthy or dangerous friendships, especially if the group your child is trying to fit in with seems to have questionable values.

Self-Harm: Are there signs that your teen is cutting, burning or in any way mutilating themselves physically? If so, get help now. This is a common precursor of violent or suicidal behavior. This is not a warning sign that should be taken lightly!

Consistent dishonesty: Lying once to go to a party is one thing, but consistently lying about where they have been and who they have been with may be a sign that your teen is headed down a dangerous path. Clearly there is a reason they don’t want you as the parent to know where they’ve been. When you catch them in a lie, try to get to the bottom of what they were trying to hide

No remorse for actions: This is a big one. All teens will make mistakes—some small, some big. But how do they react when they are caught? A teen that shows no remorse or guilt for their mistakes has crossed a dangerous line. If your teen is blatantly defying the rules you have laid out and doesn’t seem to care if they get caught, these are serious warning signs. It is time to seek help.

To change the suicide rate among teens, we as adults need to become more proactive and start paying attention.

 

References available upon request.

 

©Copyright protected 2016: NWU Local 1981

©IAPP Author/Journalist   Press ID # 1007490467

 

 

2016~ A September to Remember

By: JD Author, Reporter-Journalist

“Suicide never takes away the pain, it just gives the pain to another owner.”

22 Veterans a day are committing suicide in the United States.  That is approximately ONE veteran every 65 minutes that left a combat zone only to return to their home with a battle still raging in their minds, and coping is a war all its own.   Team Fidelis is a Kansas City based organization that has made it their mission statement:

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“To end the epidemic of veteran suicides by raising awareness, providing a bridge of hope, and building camaraderie between veterans and their community.”

 

To understand exactly what this “epidemic” is, you need to understand the soldier, the condition, and the state of mind, that leads them to the feeling of hopelessness and despair that would cause them to take from themselves their very life, their last breath, because they find no other means for inner peace.

When an individual makes the decision to sign on the dotted line, and train to become a soldier in our Armed Forces, they are aware of the possibility of having to serve in combat at the behest of the government they serve.  They sacrifice themselves, so we can cherish these freedoms.  They know some of the ramifications that may follow, but they do it out of dedication and commitment to support and defend the very Constitution and Bill of Rights our country was founded on, and still are committed.  But they do this with the understanding that the same government they’re fighting for, the same people they’re sacrificing so much for, will be there for them in return when they have completed their mission, to only find, not as much commitment is reciprocated.  The resources and tools are not always there.  They were willing to give their all, and what are we as a country giving them in return?

Our Government has promised reintegration and coping aids, counseling and therapy programs, but statistics have shown that soldiers are suffering PTSD at an alarming rate and the Veteran’s Administration is moving too slow to meet the rising demand, leaving soldiers feeling destitute and without hope.  I picture the situation as our government being the tortoise and PTSD being the hare. 

Transitioning from military life back into the civilian sector is a challenge all veterans face. Unfortunately, many veterans lack the adequate tools and resources needed to meet this challenge. The results are an alarmingly high rate of veteran suicide, depression, divorce, homelessness, and substance abuse.

So like many other organizations there are across America, Team Fidelis, founded by a veteran, is taking action to raise awareness of the rising suicide rate among his comrades in the community.

We hear a lot of people talk about PTSD, but what do we really know about it?  Everyone is affected in different ways, and not all of the soldiers who have served in our military suffer from PTSD.  There are many levels of PTSD and many different signs and symptoms associated with it.  It is not a 100% predictable situation, and by no means does it make a person any less a human being than a doctor, lawyer, shopkeeper or other individual who never served their country.  They are people who were willing to sacrifice their lives, and although they returned home from combat breathing and with a pulse, they returned with a bleeding soul, a wounded mind.  They need a community who’s willing to reach out with a caring hand and give them the sense of peace in return for protecting them.

On September 3, 2016 I attended A 22K with Team Fidelis, and was blessed to mingle with some of the most wonderful veterans, their families and supporters.  Their mission for the day was a 22K march across the metro, moving from one veteran’s memorial to another, raising awareness of the suicide rate among veterans.  Being from a family of many veterans, I felt honored in taking part, even though I didn’t walk with them, but provided other assistance and support for those who did. img_3812

Donned in their custom made shirts, proudly carrying our American flag as well as the flags of military service branches, Team Fidelis walked many miles up and down hills, proudly, loudly and with one goal in mind.  To wake people up!   team-pic

 

Sharing is Caring.  Share awareness of this growing epidemic.  Educate yourself to the signs and symptoms of PTSD.  Get involved with volunteer groups within your community and lean what you can do to help veterans and make a change.  Drop a dollar or two in donations to a veterans group.  Give of your time.  What you should not do is turn a blind eye, or think to yourself, well Someone else will, so I don’t have to.  Because the soldiers who fought for your freedoms and continue to fight for them, whether on the battlefield or at home, didn’t pick and choose who they would include or forego, so why should you? 

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Believe me, I know how apprehensive people are to take the time.  I can list about 5 of my very close personal friends that are so selfish and absorbed, I can’t even get them to “Like” or donate to anything I endorse on social media on behalf of veterans coping with PTSD and suicide prevention.  Since they have never served, or PTSD doesn’t directly involve them or affect their wealth, they sit on their self-righteous butts, and enjoy the freedoms paid for, and accept it as entitlement then walk away.  Don’t be afraid to volunteer, to care. 

 If you cannot find a volunteer group in your area, consider Team Fidelis.  They are a 100% volunteer organization, with all of their proceeds going to help raise awareness, and veterans.

 More information about Team Fidelis can be found on their website here: TEAM FIDELIS.ORG or call 816-301-4140.

 

 

 

©Copyright protected 2016: NWU Local 1981

©IAPP Author/Journalist   Press ID # 1007490467