The article above is from my clinical supervisor, Teresa. Whereas before we concluded that non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) was not a suicide attempt, through this study we can say that
“self-injury is a red flag that someone is distressed and is at greater risk…..that if someone with self-injury history becomes suicidal, having engaged in NSSI may make it much easier to carry out the physical actions needed to lethally damage the body.”
Interestingly, the study identified two protective factors:
Meaning in Life
Confiding in parents about their distress
The study goes on to share that most people who attempt suicide report that they feel a deep and often chronic lack of life meaning. Considering that they studied a college population, the study was surprised to find the powerful influence in young adults’ mental well-being were parents. We often perceive young adults as independent, self-reliant, and desiring to not include their parents once they leave the nest, but in reality parents are important.
In treatment for people “at risk for suicide, consider the focus on strengthening these relationships when feasible.”
The family unit is so important to a child’s life. A child profoundly develops meaning of who they are and the world around them through the influence of their home. Most parents understand this concept for its basic in nature; however, are we purposeful in defining meaning in our child’s life? Do we have a home in which confiding the stress and events of the day is safe and encouraging? When our children struggle with the obvious or not so obvious, do we listen with the eyes and ears of grace and understanding?
Meaning in life …..
As early as infancy we can teach our children the love of God and His promises. I can remember my children’s first experiences in church as the church nursery in which Godly people loved on them. At night, we would pray with them and read books about God’s love for them.
As they grow and develop the words spoken over them and to them becomes a voice inside their mind. The child speaks this within their minds and to the world around them. What are you saying to your children through your words, actions, and presence?
As complex as humans are we can all agree that all of us have the deepest desire to know we are loved and that we bring meaning to this world.
Parents, it’s not enough to say I love you and provide the basic human needs of your child. Meaning in life is developed through a profound, healthy, trustworthy intimate relationship with our children. I often share resources with families for counseling for their child, when truly it’s probably a better idea for the parents to also receive counseling. Many parents have not resolved their own childhood issues, and they parent based on their fears and insecurities.
I once heard a counselor share, that as children grow older and into adolescent years, they may convey through words and actions they don’t need you, but they do. Those are the trying years of recognizing that parents are “home base”. Children may go out into the world, but they need to know they can run to home base for safety and cry “safe!” without judgment or shame.
Take the time to sit down with your children and ask them if they feel safe to share their distresses in life within your home, and how could that be improved. Also, begin dialogue about their gifts, talents, and the meaning they bring to your life, the family, and the world around them. Ask if they feel a sense of meaning and talk about any false self statements they may have in their minds. If talking face to face is hard, try journaling back and forth with each other. Go somewhere purposeful together like a coffee shop and chat without distractions. Find a good book to read together on the topic. Lifeway has EXCELLENT resources in the teen section or parenting section of their store for you to research. You can find them online or if you live in Chesterfield, near Commonwealth 20.
JUST A FEW BOOKS I RECOMMEND AND WEBSITES…..
Age of Opportunity – Paul Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart – Paul Tripp (Good for parents of small children)
http://purefreedom.org/meet/dannah/ ( Dannah Gresh – Pure Freedom)
Bringing up boys – Dobson
http://www.lynncowell.com/books/ (Lynn Cowell – His Revolutionary Love)