Parents: Let’s Talk About Suicide

September is National Suicide Prevention Week

GrievingTomorrow is September 1st. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Next week is National Suicide Prevention week, September 5 – 11. The 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, first held in 2003. Therefore, this month I have decided to dedicate my blogs to this topic.

Suicide. It’s a terrible tragedy with far-reaching ripple effects. Suicides are happening with more and more frequency, especially among teens and young adults. No community or socioeconomic group is immune. When someone takes their life, family and friends are left with more than their share of grief and sorrow, anger and shock. They’re also left with many unanswered questions and unresolved grief.

Why? is one of their biggest questions. The person who ends their life often leaves no letter of explanation to offer answers or comfort. No one will ever know this side of heaven what caused them to make their decision.

Another complicated question is, “What will happen to their eternal soul? Did they go to heaven or not?”

Where are answers to be found for Christians asking these difficult questions?

Encouragement for Parents in Pain

7 Quotes to Uplift Your Soul

“I can’t do this. I don’t know how much more I can take.” “I think I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.” ” I never 057knew someone could cause me so much intense heartache. This feels unbearable.” “To tell you the truth, I’m so wrecked over my child I’ve been thinking about ending my life.”  My husband and I talk to hurting moms and dads all the time. Comments like these are common. I’ve thought them myself. What about you, dear parent?

How is your heart today? If your child has an issue that’s impacting you: alcohol, weed, heroin or some other drug, repeated self-harm, addicted to pornography or video games, incarcerated, starves or binges with food, has a mental illness or struggles with suicidal thoughts, then you’re in pain – agonizing pain.

I’m a mom who can empathize. One of the things that has helped me the most is

When Parents Need Help

cropped-cropped-aprilyohe_hopeforhurtingparents-121.jpgThis is a great resource when you’re a parent who needs help with your teenage son or daughter – serious help. You’ve tried everything you know to do and nothing’s working. Counselors. Psychologists. Psychiatrists. Different discipline approaches. Prayer. Behavior challenges persist and you’re at the end of your rope.

At this point some parents begin to wonder if a therapeutic boarding school – or something like that – is what they need, but which one? And how do you find a reputable one that you can trust when it’s all new territory?

I have great news for you. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting a mom who’s been in your shoes. She made the best choice she could for her son and it turned out badly – horribly. As a result, she determined to do something to be sure this didn’t happen to someone else. She founded The Envoy Group.

Where I Found Help When My Daughter was Diagnosed with Mental Illness

This is Mental Health Awareness Week. I remember when I had no awareness on this topic. I was clueless. I stilltrust13 remember how it felt when the psychiatrist told my husband and I that our then seventeen-year-old daughter was suffering with a mental illness – several, actually – also called brain disorders.

In shock, my mind reeled with endless questions: What are you telling me? I can’t believe this? What is bipolar or anxiety disorder? What does this mean for her future? Who can I talk to that will understand? How could this happen? Who can help me? Where do we go from here?

I had no clue. Most parents don’t.

That was twelve years ago. Since then, I’ve worked hard to find resources and connect with people who do understand. These are a few of my favorites:

NAMI – The National Association of Mental Illness; nami.org; their website offers an abundance of information and help; a free 12-week class (Family to Family and Peer to Peer) to educate and equip; and support groups for family members and for the person who lives with mental illness.

LEAP Institute – leapinstitute.com; help for family of those who suffer with mental illness who refuse treatment; founder, Dr. Xavier Amador’s book is a must have, I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help.

Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder, Federman and Thomson

Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families, Mondimore

Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About has Borderline Personality Disorder, Mason and Kreger

Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depression, Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Kay Redfield Jamison

 

This blog is for you, the hurting parent of a child who suffers with mental illness – depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD, anxiety disorder, etc. I have a few questions:

What’s hardest for you?

What causes you the most pain?

What do you wish someone would talk about, but no one is?

What kind of help do you need that you can’t find?

Please share your comments to help me better meet your needs in future blog posts. Your input matters. Thank you!

 

This Bible verse brought great amounts of comfort:

“He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water (Psalm 107:35 ESV).”  

Compassionate Heavenly Father, please do this in our weary, worn hearts. It’s been so hard to see our child suffer. For some of us it’s been a really long time. Our soul’s feel parched and dry. We’ve felt powerless. Helpless. But we believe You can refresh and renew us. We’re counting on it. Keep us closely connected to You so we can survive this trial. You’re our life-giving Source. May we never stop coming to You for our every need – and our child’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Helpful Resources on Suicide for Families

SunsetAre you a parent, grandparent – or some other family member – who’s been impacted by the suicide of someone you loved? I wrote a three-part series on suicide discussing the warning signs and a simple three-step strategy of prevention, QPR. This technique saves lives.

Good  resources are hard to find. These are a few I discovered that will help you cope and process your loss. Maybe you haven’t been personally affected by this worldwide tragedy, but you want to understand it better and know how to help a friend. More than likely, some day, you will be impacted by a suicide. If you’ve found other resources you would recommend, please comment and share them with us!

 

Grief Share Support Groups and Seminars – a 12 week, faith-based grief recovery group curriculum;

More Encouragement for Hurting Parents

Does your son or daughter have an addiction or are they a habitual party-er? Do they struggle with a mental illness new beginnings1or self-harm? Do they have an eating disorder; anorexia or bulimia? Have they been arrested and are now in jail or prison? Are they living a gay lifestyle? If so, then you’re probably worn out. Exhausted. Discouraged beyond words. If you’re like me, I did’t know who to talk to. I was too ashamed to be honest with hardly anyone. How could I? It was a lonely, disheartening journey. At times I wished I had died – I just wanted relief.

I’m in a good place now. My daughter is in recovery and doing so much better, too. I continue to take one day at a time, knowing things could change in a moment. Addiction and mental illness can be a deadly combination. Parents whose children suffer with these issues are some of the saddest, loneliest, anxious, and depressed people I know.

My husband and I needed a lot of emotional and spiritual support. Tons of it. You, too?

Because this kind of encouragement was difficult to find, when I achieved a fair amount of inner healing and recovery myself, I decided to reach out to offer help to other moms and dads. I began writing emails to those I’d met along my path. Words of hope, courage, Scripture, sometimes recommending a book.  I’ve been doing this for over six years.

You can sign up to receive these emails through our website (here). Do you see the blue box to the right of this blog? It says: “Encouraging Emails” – “Encouragement in Your Inbox”. You choose the frequency: Six days a week, three days a week, or once.

Here’s a sample of an email I sent a few days ago:

“Hope is available to us right now,

Square in the middle of tragedy,

Because God has promised to walk with us

Through any disaster that might overtake us.”

– Luis Palau

Need a fresh does of hope today? The above quote comforts me. God, the Maker of the universe, who made the sun, moon and stars, who raised Jesus from the dead, promises to walk with you and me through ANYTHING we will ever face in our lives!

If this is really true (and I believe it is), then I can have hope that I’m going to survive. What about you? But I must force myself to stay in the moment, in the right now. I can’t let myself wander off into the unknown future.

Something else that helps me is making a gratitude list (even if I don’t feel like it) and add to it every day. Then I need to keep my grateful list handy so I can refer back to it on my extra rough days, on the days I can’t even remember what’s on my list because I’ve become so bogged down in the agonizing present.

How quickly we forget, yes?

Take heart my friends, our present trial won’t last forever . . . really! Here are a few reassuring words from God:

John 16:33  “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble, but TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:17  “ . . .in all these things we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Isaiah 41:10   “Fear NOT for I am with you . . .”

If you were in need of some hope today, I pray this gave you a little more.

 

 

Are You the Parent of an Addict?

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you didn’t know your way around? You had no map to help you get your bearings or direct you to lostwhere you needed to go. You were lost. And on top of that you were alone. There was no one to ask for help. Or maybe you were in a foreign country and everyone  spoke another language. So they couldn’t help you.

It’s frightening and unsettling. This describes how I felt when I first learned my daughter had a serious problem with alcohol and drugs. Lost and disoriented I had no clue where to find help. At the time no one I knew had faced this with any of their children.

I’ve been on this path for a little over ten years now. It hasn’t been easy to find resources and learn about this strange, foreign world I found myself in the middle of. Today I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite books for parents of addicts. Each one has helped me regain my bearings.

A Resource on Suicide for Parents

designDid you know National Suicide Prevention week starts tomorrow? Authorities state that: “Every 17 minutes in America someone commits suicide.”

Because my daughter has been on the verge of many dark nights when only God held back her hand from ending her life, I know how difficult it is for a mom or dad to understand what it’s like to be suicidal, then find a way to function while this dark cloud hangs low over their heads. There aren’t many other things that have the power to produce more terror in the heart of a parent.

I want to share a great resource with you today It’s one of the foremost books on the subject, written by one of the leading authorities: Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison. It will increase your understanding about this epidemic that’s sweeping the country, leaving a wake of grief and pain in its path.

It may surprise you how Jamison, teaching professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, knows so much about suicide. She herself was nearly one of its victims, struggling with bipolar disorder for decades.

PhD in psychiatry, Jamison truly knows what she’s talking about in every sense of the word.

The back cover describes it as, “the first major book in a quarter century on suicide, and its terrible pull on the young in particular… Where it has become one of the most common killers of Americans between ages of 15 and 45.

An internationally acknowledged authority on depressive illnesses, Dr. Jamison has also known suicide first hand: After years of struggling with manic depression (bipolar), she tried at age twenty-eight to kill herself.

This is a book that helps you understand the suicidal mind,  recognize and come to the aid of those at risk, and comprehend the profound effects on those left behind.”

Here’s what others say about Night Falls Fast:
“A profound an impassioned book…it will stand as the authoritative study of suicide for many years.”

“This powerful book will change people’s lives – and, doubtless, save a few.”

“Jamison brings us face-to-face with the suicidal mind in a manner so intense and penetrating… A drama as narratively compelling as anyone might see on the stage.” -The Washington Post Book World

“A sweeping, authoritative look at suicide…her experience brings passion to every page of the book…”

“A must read for anyone who has thought of suicide or loves someone who has…from the first page, she hooks the reader, blending scholarship, life experience and keen writing ability.”

Kay felt compelled to write this book for two reasons: She strongly believes there are treatments that could save lives, and that the future holds great promise for the intelligent and compassionate care of the suicidal mentally ill. Throughout the world, public health officials are seeking a strategy that can decrease the death rate of suicide. I hope they they hurry.

If you feel discouraged, then you need this next book:
Do Not Lose Heart by Dave and Jan Dravecky. Former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, Dravecky’s bout with cancer resulted in the removal of his left arm and ended his career. But, he did not lose heart. In his suffering, he found unquenchable hope.

Full of wisdom and promises of Scripture you’ll find their book full of encouragement and comfort.

These words of truth have done that for me many times:

“As they (whose strength is in God) pass through the valley of Baca (weeping; arid stretches), they make it a place of springs . . . they go from strength to strength. . .” (Psalm 84:6-7a)

 

A Book to Help When You Care About Someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder. Has your son or daughter been diagnosed with this brain disorder or have you wondered if this is the explanation for what is going on with them?  Have you felt at a loss for how to cope – how to help? Have you struggled to get your own life back? This book can help.

Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. The subtitle is: Taking your life back when someone you care about hasdespair Borderline Personality Disorder. The title describes exactly what it feels like, doesn’t isn’t it? I think it’s the same with any mental health issue.

If these describe your situation, then this book is for you:

  • You feel anything you say or do will be twisted against you.
  • You find yourself concealing thoughts and feelings to avoid horrible arguments.
  • You’re often the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages, alternating with period of when they act normal and loving.
  • You feel manipulated, controlled or lied to.
  • You feel as if someone alternately views you as all good or all bad.
  • Does no one believe you when you explain what is going on?

Bipolar Diagnosis for Your Child? This Book Will Help!

Do you have a son or daughter who has been given the mental health diagnosis of bipolar?  Was it hard for you to believe it could be true? Didsnow flowers you wonder what this would mean for their future? Have you struggled to understand? Has it been difficult to figure out how to help? It was for me.

I want to tell you about a book that was written just for young adults to help them accept their diagnosis and learn how to deal with it. I wish it had been written ten years ago when we began this journey with our daughter.

The book is Facing Bipolar: the young adult’s guide to dealing with bipolar disorder by Russ Federman, Ph.D. and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD. A unique fact about these authors is that they have been involved in counseling and psychological services on college campuses for over thirty years. Out of their experiences they developed a burden that birthed this book.