Suicide is not an isolated issue. It is a universal issue that affects individuals regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic background, and family structure. And as the Kansas City community has seen this year—suicide affects young people, too. As of June 2017, Johnson County, Kansas has experienced 11 suicides among children ages 25 and younger, and Jackson County as seen 17 suicides among the same age
group. The fact is, death by suicide is occurring among some of our youngest
individuals in our community.
For parents and caregivers reading this, it can be scary and overwhelming to
acknowledge the possibility of death by suicide occurring to a child. In the midst of
all this fear and uncertainty, there is hope. As a parent, you are armed with the
intimacy and ability to care and advocate for your child’s mental health and
wellbeing. No matter the health status of your own child, it is important to begin the
conversation about suicide now. In beginning that dialog and road towards healing,
here are four things to know when talking to your child about suicide.
1. Speak openly and honestly
One of the most common myths about suicide is that talking about
suicide can give someone the idea to kill himself or herself. For most
individuals, it can be a relief to have a loved one address their deepest
pain and lift a piece of that the burden. By speaking to your child
about suicide directly, you are reaching out your hand to comfort your
child and tell them that they are not in this suffering alone.
2. Express empathy
Being heard. It’s a simple concept, but can be one of the greatest gifts
to give your child. It can be so scary for an individual to experience
suicidal thoughts and contemplate something as serious as taking his
or her own life. In speaking with your child, it is important to withhold
any judgment or opinions and just listen.
In an effort to take away pain, sometimes we jump to a quick fix or
solution. We want to put a Band-Aid on the scraped knee instead of
letting the wound sit until it is properly cleaned and cared for. We say
things like, “But you’ve got such a great life ahead of you” or “At least
you have me.”
Suicidal thoughts don’t go away when they are dismissed. Remember to
seek understanding and express empathy before jumping to a
3. Offer Hope
Suicidal feelings and thoughts are temporary. They are not the
identity of the child and do not make the child weak or damaged. This
pain that the child is experiencing does not have to be the end of their
4. Seek professional help when necessary
Suicidality operates on a continuum. It is not uncommon for an
individual to have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, but
that may not mean they have an intention or plan to act on those
Look for warning signs such as changes in behavior and mood,
depression, withdrawal and isolation.
If your child discloses that he or she has suicidal intentions or a plan,
it is important to take his or her threats seriously and seek
Trust your instincts. You know your child best. If you notice that
something is not right, take that step for your child and get help.
If you find yourself in immediate crisis, call the confidential and free National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-8255.
Sarah Kindscher, LPC, NCC
Relationships don’t only fail because of finances or infidelity, oftentimes they fail because of ineffective communication.
Simply put, communication is the sharing of meaning. Effective communication is when the message sent is the same as the message received. A simple concept, but achieving effective communication is not easy. Sharing meaning does not mean sharing opinion, philosophy or worldview. To share meaning does not mean agreement, but rather understanding.
Ineffective communication increases stress. Whether between you and your partner or you and a stranger, if you’re not sharing meaning, then you’re most likely getting stressed.
To help you, I’d like to share 3 things you can start doing to be an effective communicator.
Working with a professional can be helpful on this journey. In individual counseling we can work on your communication skills. In group or couples counseling, we can work on skills and sharing of meaning. Put the work in today to save your sanity tomorrow.
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Empowerment In Relationships
In my work with partners in marriage and couple's counseling I hear a lot of talk about people "playing games" or trying to "get the upper hand" in relationships. These sayings revolve around the idea of there being limited power in relationships, and partners fighting over that power. I would argue that not only are these games unnecessary in relationships, but the theory they are based on is flawed. There is not limited power in relationships unless we actively limit the strength/power/individuality of one partner or the other. This struggle over power only serves to limit both partners. Even the "winner" in these situations is limited in what they could truly accomplish if both were working with, rather than against, each other.
What is Empowerment
Empowerment is the idea that we don't work to limit others through control and manipulation, but instead we freely give of ourselves to lift the other up. Through the act of empowerment we actively work to strengthen, build up, and encourage our partner. This is the opposite of a power struggle, which only serves to hold down a partner through control, coercion, and force. Relationships in which both partners empower the other are always stronger and healthier than those who work to manipulate and control the other. This requires two committed partners who are confident in themselves, humble, and unselfish. The great thing about this is that you don't have to be perfect or strong all the time. In these relationships I find that when one partner is struggling, the other is there to catch and support them, and visa versa.
How to Empower Your Partner
There are many ways to empower your partner, from very simple gestures to large and lasting acts. A simple, everyday empowering moment is simply showing love and affection through hugs, kissing, holding hands, and genuinely telling each other you love them. This act alone leaves us with a feeling of connectedness and acceptance that we carry with us throughout the day. Calls, texts, or e-mails through the day of love and encouragement also serve to remain connected and remind the other of your love. This can be especially powerful if it comes during a difficult time in the day.
Another part of empowerment is to be a calming and supportive presence when a partner is struggling. Many times this involves simply listening attentively and empathizing with your partner. Empathy is not giving advice, criticizing, or judging your partner. It is trying to understand how they are experiencing the situation (not how you would experience it) and reflecting back an understanding of how they might feel. Even if you don't get it right, you partner will appreciate you trying to understand them, and they will clarify how they feel.
Lastly, empowerment is encouraging your partner to reach their full potential. This is the wonderful opportunity that committed relationships offer, that you are a better person together than you are apart. The first step to this is knowing what your partner wants in life and understanding their strengths. I sometimes see relationships where a partner sees a strength better than the person themselves, and in these cases the partner works to point out these strengths and encourage their partner to explore it more fully. From this point, it takes being a supportive force in their life, to encourage them when they feel down, to possibly cover tasks for them when they are pursuing this dream, and to praise them when they do well. Again, this should not be a one way street; the best results happen when both partners do this for the other. This might not be at the same exact time, but throughout your life you should see times and opportunities to guide each other along your shared and individual dreams.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS