By Judy Davis
The Direction Diva
My phone rings again. Another mother with a child in crisis.
This time a head on collision with a tree. Thankfully the young man is alive and getting the help he needs. Many times that isn’t the case. Many times we are too late, and their pain had been too much for them to bear.
Since sharing our families story about our son’s battle with depression, PTSD and his subsequent suicide attempt in 2012 (learn more at LivingThruCrisis) these types of phone calls and emails are becoming more frequent.
Is it the times? Is it the environment? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that we as parents need to arm ourselves with everything we can. We need to know what to look for and how to get help.
So over the next few months I will be writing a series of blog posts with tools, information and tips that will empower us to be able to help our military children before it’s to late. We will learn what to look for, how to take action, how to deal with it ourselves and finally how to navigate the challenges of getting our children the care they need which can be a challenge when it comes to behavioral health issues.
Today I will tackle the question I am asked most often by fellow parents.
How do I know if my child is in distress?
Because every child is different, the broad answer is this: If you notice a sudden change, don’t dismiss it as “typical teen” behavior and begin to ask direct and specific questions with calm concern and then LISTEN to your child’s responses. Seeing the early warning signs and getting treatment is key in to saving lives and getting your child the help they need.
7 Tell Tale Signs Your Military Teen at Risk for Suicide
- They have angry outbursts or intense frustration especially to common everyday happenings
- An increased sensitivity to daily life (crying over the little things, super sensitive to things you say)
- Are they always on the defensive
- Have they lost interest in activities, foods and friends they normally enjoy
- Has there been a general apathy to life
- Is there a change in their ability to relate to others or have they begun to isolate themselves
- Are there physical changes in their appearance? (i.e., have they begun to wear long sleeves or articles of clothing that are more concealing? It could be that they are covering cuts, scars, bruises and other signs of self-injury — which is often an effort to feel better/or feel something)
These 7 things either on their own or cumulatively can be warning signs of a much bigger problem and I encourage you to act on the side of caution. If at any time you feel you child is at risk of harming themselves, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If it isn’t an emergent situation, I recommend that you begin with their primary care physician.
Please don’t wait, don’t dismiss and don’t judge.
Probe when your child answers “I’m Fine”.
Don’t Yell, Nag or Give Advice…
Just Ask, Ask and then Ask Again.
Your child needs you to work with them to find the support they need. Their life may depend on it. I know my son’s did.
Judy Davis, also known as The Direction Diva, is a motivational speaker, blogger, and author of Right Side Up: Find Your Way When Military Life Turns You Upside Down. She is an expert when it comes to helping Military Spouses move Beyond Logistics toward a better life.