A teen in my neighbourhood took her own life over a week ago. My heart goes out to her family, friends, and her school community who is grieving her loss and wondering what they could have done to prevent her death.
Just today I met a woman who recently lost her son, who took his own life. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to go through each day knowing that your child is gone. And wondering what you could have done, if you had only known what was REALLY going on in your child’s mind. This is every parent’s worst nightmare.
In Canada, suicide is the second highest cause of death for youth aged 10-24.
Suicide prevention isn’t a term that I use often because it evokes our fear of losing those closest to us, however, for some parents and teens that fear is very real.
Suicide prevention strategies might seem like something that only a few people, in very extreme situations, or teens labelled as “high risk” might need.
Today, I’m inviting you to think differently about suicide prevention by thinking about your own Mental Health.
Mental Health is important for EVERYONE because we all face difficult periods in our life. The loss of a family member, losing a job, divorce, having to move, all of these stressers have an impact on our mental health. The pressure on adolescents to be successful at school and be successful socially is intense, and teens don’t always have the understanding that their difficult times are only temporary.
I know that many teens roll their eyes when we talk about mental health in schools, because they feel like it doesn’t affect them. Or their deep shame about their own internal dialogue prevents them from reaching out for support.
This is why we NEED to embed mental health education in the high school curriculum.
As an English Language Arts specialist, I know that literature allows us an amazing opportunity to explore the thoughts and behaviours of fictional characters to open an continue on a conversation about mental health that can last weeks and months, instead of minutes or an hour.
Understanding mental health through fictional characters also helps us understand that mental health is not an individual issue, but that there are environmental, social, and physiological factors that can impact our mental health.
Mindfulness practice is also a way for students AND teachers to learn the strategies necessary for checking in on their own thoughts, and learning to shift their thoughts in a way that supports their mental health. Whether you’re a teen, or an adult, EVERYONE needs to check in with the thoughts they’re having on a consistent basis. Mindfulness practice gives you that time and space to check in with your thoughts.
The Canadian Mental Health Association describes 5 characteristics of Mental Health, which are
- Ability to enjoy life
CLICK HERE to take the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Health Meter to really check in with your own mental health. Only YOU really know your heart and mind.
You deserve a life that FEELS GOOD!
Yours in mental health,
P.S. The first step is admitting your mental health status to yourself. The next step is reaching out for support. For immediate, 24 hour support call kids help line.