Suicide is a difficult topic for most people to talk about — especially parents — because suicide is heavy. Learning your child is having suicidal thoughts can be overwhelming, and feel hopeless, and the prospect of losing your child to suicide is terrifying. (Even to me, a mental health advocate, suicide survivor, and “mom.”) What’s more, despite all of the great strides we have made toward mental health awareness, suicide is still misunderstood and heavily stigmatized.
Suicidal ideations, actions, and conversations remain taboo.
The good news is that organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) are working hard to remove the secrecy and shame surrounding suicide by speaking about suicide, by educating the public about mood disorders (i.e. presenting the facts and breaking down the myths surrounding suicide), and by providing programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and those at risk.
Organizations like AFSP are helping to prevent suicide by speaking up and out, and by giving us — as a society — the tools we need to have these “hard” conversations.
And one of these tools is “Are You Okay?” — a video, featuring Dr. Matt Wintersteen, Associate Professor, Director Research at Thomas Jefferson University, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. In the three minute clip, Dr. Wintersteen addresses the importance of talking to our children about their feelings, listening to their answers, and then not being afraid to ask simple questions — and not so simple ones.
So please, watch. Your concern could save a life. Your seemingly innocent question could save your child’s life.
A special thanks to AFSP for allowing me to share this very important message.