Some Possibly Positive News About Suicide Prevention (Part 2 of 2)

Background

I write and talk about adoption and suicide because many folks don’t see any connection. Bear in mind: it’s not a statistically large connection, and I do not want to pathologize adoptees.

Here’s the thing though. The popular narrative around adoption is that it is win-win-win, and that adoptees should be happy and grateful. That is not always the case. Adoptees can love their adoptive family, have a positive family life, and still struggle with depression and suicidal ideation. And of course, they can also experience abuse and neglect, and thus struggle with depression and ideation.

As part of sharing information about suicide prevention, I wrote in April about the new 988 number that takes effect in mid-July here in the U.S. for folks experiencing a mental health crisis, including attempting suicide. When you call 988, you will not be connected to the police, but to mental health counselors at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The police could still be called if a person in a mental health crisis was dangerous or committing a crime, but they would not be the first responders.

That’s important because people in a mental health crisis can be harmed or worse by police intervention; that may be especially true for Black and brown folks. They could be arrested, thrown in jail, tased, or otherwise traumatized while dealing with mental illness or a related crisis, including attempting suicide.

So the new 988 is a potentially good development for anyone, including adoptees, who are looking for help in crisis.

Resources/Information

Crisis management is important, as is being proactive with resources around suicide prevention and adoption.

There is some correlation between substance abuse/addictions and suicide. There is also some correlation between adoption and substance abuse/addictions. So it’s important to be aware of the intersection of adoption, addictions, and suicide. There is lots of information available. There are also resources for adoptees.

AdopteesOn podcasts are always incredibly thoughtful and insightful. Here’s a link to the conversation with adoptee Miguel Caballero. From the AdopteesOn site: “Miguel shares some of his story with us including how he got sober eight years ago. There are so many adopted people who struggle with addiction, and Miguel describes feeling that he had a birth-mother-shaped hole to fill. He’s gone on to fill a great need in our community by starting the peer-led support group Adoptees and Addiction.”

Every Sunday, adopted people can attend this peer-led support group via Zoom: check out Miguel’s site, Adoptees and Addictions. From the site: “Most members would say that the power of the group comes from being in a meeting where you don’t have to explain anything about being an adoptee, where you can talk about adoptee issues or addiction issues without fear of judgment or misunderstanding and with lots of heads actually nodding in recognition along with what you’re saying.”

Zara Phillips, an adopted person, is an “Adoption/Addiction Recovery Coach.” She offers individual sessions, and she works “alongside therapists and a team of people to help you move forward.”

Zara is a speaker along with Gabor Maté on this video, “The Trauma of Relinquishment – Adoption, Addiction, and Beyond.”

The National Association of Adoptees and Parents hosts “Adoptee Paths to Recovery” meetings on line. The next one is May 17. Here’s the link: https://naapunited.org/adoptee-paths-to-recovery

Paul Sunderland gave a valuable lecture on “Adoption and Addiction.” Many folks consider it to be one of the best talks ever on the issue.

Advocacy

Join me in becoming an advocate for information, and for increased awareness of suicide prevention within the adoption community. A good resource, though not adoption-specific, is the recent podcast “What Do Parents Need to Know About Suicide?” from “Ask Lisa: the psychology of parenting.” The guest is Dr. Jonathan Singer, co-author of Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-Level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention. The podcast is less than a half hour long, and includes several useful points: Most suicides occur in the springtime and fall, not around holidays. Cutting can be a step toward suicide, but not always by any means. Sleep is one of the most important needs of teenagers.

Dr. Singer noted that suicides are increasing among Native American/Indigenous, Black, and Latino individuals. That said, white middle aged men have the highest rate of suicide. (There may be no correlation whatsoever here, but it may be interesting to consider that many transracial adoptees have white, middle aged adoptive fathers.)

I invite you to join me in this bit of advocacy: every time you see a tweet or a post about a suicide-related podcast or report, ask the speakers/writers to consider and promote research about the intersection of depression/suicide with adoption. You can cite the 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics report that found adoptees were four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees. The adoption community needs much more and current information. Urge researchers, podcast hosts, writers, scholars, therapists, and doctors to speak out about this need.

Here’s what I tweeted to the Ask Lisa (@LDamour) podcast: “A strong podcast for parents of teens. Valuable info. That said: We need much more current research in the #adoption community re the intersection btwn adoption & #depression/#suicide

I also invite you to advocate for suicide prevention training in schools. Elementary and high schools can be strong partners in suicide prevention. If your child attends school, ask the administration to provide a suicide prevention training for students, or a PTA program about suicide prevention. Information about trainings for schools is available from the Suicide Prevention Research Center, as well as “K-12 School Suicide Prevention” from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Also, if you are an adoptive parent, as I am, use your place in the adoption community to wholeheartedly uplift adoptee voices and lived experiences. Promote the wisdom of adoptees. Share their websites and research, their Twitter handles, and their publications and posts. Read #adopteetwitter and #adopteevoices. You can learn a great deal from a variety of adopted adults. Don’t feel compelled to comment—read and learn.

There is no magic wand around suicide prevention. There are, though, increasing numbers of resources, and reasons to be hopeful.

Some Possibly Positive News on Suicide Prevention (Part 1 of 2)

One of my most heartfelt and pressing concerns in the realm of suicide prevention is the intersection of the police with Black and Brown adoptees dealing with suicidal ideation or attempts. Many Black people do not trust police. Many police are not trained to deal with mental illness, though mental illness could be a factor in up to half of all police shootings.

So when a Black or Brown adoptee is experiencing a suicidal crisis, calling 911 might not be at all the best option.

There could be some hope on the horizon.

The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or texts to 741741 are solid resources. Use them, share them.

Currently, when a person is in crisis, many folks dial 911, regardless of whether any crime is being committed. The police may be called to an emotionally fraught situation with someone who is considering suicide, and police may or may not be the appropriate source of help, for many reasons.

Christian Hall, an adoptee from China, on December 30, 2020, was killed by Pennsylvania state troopers who had been called when he was reportedly suicidal and had what appeared to be a firearm. His adoptive parents have sued the police, looking for accountability, transparency, and more mental health services. From the article “A year after police killed Christian Hall, his parents continue calls for accountability”: 

“The challenge of finding mental health care is a common one for Asian American adoptees, particularly those living outside urban centers, said Kimberly Langrehr, a Chicago-based psychologist and Asian American adoptee herself. 

“They are living in a world that really knows little about adoption, is heavily misinformed about race and unfortunately also has a stunted understanding of mental health,” she said. 

Hall’s parents hope his story brings awareness to gaps in culturally competent mental health resources for Asian American adoptees, as well as the importance of mental health training for law enforcement officers.”

One new resource here in the U.S. will be available in mid-July: a 988 line, as opposed to 911. The idea is to send mobile crisis response teams, including trained mental health professionals, to folks in crisis, with the goal of not involving armed police.

The calls will still go via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 number, though, is easier to remember, and will avoid a (perhaps unnecessary) call to 911/police. That could make Black and Brown folks feel less worried about police involvement in time of a mental health crisis.

However, the effectiveness of 988 depends on the individual state. Here in Washington state, where I live, the implementation of the 988 program is going well. In other states, that may not be at all the case. A Reuters article says this:

“Few states have resources such as mobile crisis teams in place to respond to calls for help. Statewide crisis services are available or are being ramped up in Virginia, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, according to the National Association of Mental Health.

“In some places, you’re probably in good shape,” said Hannah Wesolowski, a spokesperson for NAMI, the national mental health advocacy nonprofit. “You could call 988 and there are going to be mobile crisis teams and a pretty robust crisis infrastructure. But in other places, good luck.”

And that, to me, is a tragedy. Access for some folks (such as adoptees, and especially in rural areas) to mental health services may continue to be limited, including suicide crisis intervention.

Talking about suicide is difficult, and connecting it with trauma and adoption is complicated. In my next post (Part 2 of 2), I will share some steps for advocacy on suicide prevention, especially in our adoption community.

Meanwhile, here are a few resources:

The Newport Institute has several articles about young people and mental health: “The Effect of Stress on College Students.” “Looking for ‘Likes’: Teens and Social Media Addiction,” “The Effects of Suicidal Attempts on Family Dynamics,” and more.

National Institute for Mental Health Research-UK: “Adopted children can experience lasting mental health problems.”

Befrienders Worldwide operates in 32 countries to provide emotional support in times of crisis, including around suicide.

Having a Conversation with Someone You’re Worried About

“The Last Person on Earth A mother considers her son’s final thoughts and a type of suicide we don’t fully understand,” from 2018, by Melissa Fay Greene, an adoptive parent.

An Ethiopian Adoptee Death: Heartache

Because his adoptive parents spoke publicly about his death, I am sharing the news of the March 6 passing of Mekbul Timmer, an Ethiopian adoptee. I cannot imagine the heartbreak the family is enduring, and I send the deepest of condolences.

He was adopted by Jeff and Mattie Timmer of Michigan. Jeff Timmer is a political and media consultant who works with the Lincoln Project; both Jeff and Mattie have a substantial social media presence. Jeff posted on his Twitter feed various photos and information about Mekbul, including this obituary.

The family makes no mention of suicide as a cause of death—but neither do they give any other cause. Mekbul was 18 years old, adopted from Ethiopia (per the obituary posted by Jeff Timmer) when he was 11, as best I can tell from the obituary.

Mekbul Timmer

Because the family has been so public, we will include Mekbul Timmer’s name in the Dedication of our upcoming anthology of essays by Ethiopian adoptees, “Lions Roaring Far From Home.” We are dedicating the book to all Ethiopian adoptees who have died too soon, whether by suicide or other causes. We grieve as a community.

We know also how painful and searing a death by suicide of a young person can be not only to immediate family, but also to friends. Yes, the death is painful for those left behind at any age, but teens and young adults can often struggle a great deal with confusion, grief, and even suicidal ideation themselves.

I’ve written several times about adoption and suicide. I know it is a difficult topic at best. As a society, we are not good at talking about it. The popular narrative of adoption does not allow much room for adoptees who love their adoptive families and still struggle with depression or trauma. It doesn’t allow much room for adoptees who were failed or abused by their adoptive families either, and who deal with suicidal ideation.

Last October, I facilitated a webinar via United Suicide Survivors International called “Adoption and Suicide Prevention: Adult Adoptees Speak Out.” The powerful speakers were Jessenia Parmer, Amanda Transue-Woolston, Kevin Barhydt, and Lynelle Long. You can find the video of the webinar here.

United Suicide Survivors International has many excellent webinars and resources. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, available 24/7. The K-12 School Suicide Prevention info from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention may be useful also. Check out “How to Talk About Suicide” from Indian Health Services, There are “Resources for Youth and Suicide Prevention” on the page as well.

Jeff Timmer posted a thank you to the thousands of people across social media who expressed condolences. He included, “Please just love your kids and those close to you.” Absolutely.

I will add this, and I know it’s painful to even think about: Please learn and talk about suicide prevention with those you love.

May Mekbul rest in power and in peace. May his memory be a blessing.

Twitter Chat December 16 on Adoption and Suicide

On December 16 (December 17 in some time zones), United Suicide Survivors International will host a Twitter Chat to #ElevatetheConvo about adoption and suicide.

I am honored to be among the panelists: it is a wonderful group. The subject is a tough one, and it deserves visibility. We are all focused on suicide prevention, and on hope and strength for our community.

Please tune in!

Resources (U.S.): 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255; counselors will respond.

You can also text 24/7 to 741741; counselors will respond.

Help is available. You are not alone.

Suicide Prevention: NAAM

This is day 12 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.

National Adoption Awareness Month can be a exhausting burden to some adoptees. I’ve read many posts by adult adoptees saying they are ignoring NAAM as best they can. For those who have experienced and are processing trauma, the month can be especially hard. Some struggle mightily with losses and can feel worn down.

In the past several years, I have posted multiple times about adoptees and suicide, not because I believe this should be pathologized: it should not. There are many reasons to be hopeful, and most adoptees do not deal with suicidal ideation. Many may not deal with anxiety and depression, and for that, I am grateful.

When adult adoptees share their stories about their struggles, that is an opportunity to create community and especially to create hope, and to let adoptees of any age know that there are resources and people who understand, and who want them to stay.

United Suicide Survivors International puts “the lived expertise of suicide attempt and loss survivors into action through leadership, action, and advocacy. They serve as a home for people who have experienced suicide loss, suicide attempts, and suicidal thoughts and feelings.” They hold a variety of free webinars every month, which are always thoughtful and well-done. You can go to their Facebook page here.

If you need help now, you can find resources here.

Just in case: The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255, available 24/7. You can also text 741741 and reach a counselor, also 24/7.

USSI”s links include an e-learning for anyone thinking about telling their own suicide-related story: that’s a big decision that should be made carefully. I took the class, and found it helpful.

With gratitude to those adult adoptees who have shared their experiences with suicidal ideation, here is the YouTube link to the USSI webinar, “Adoption and Suicide Prevention.”

Take good care, everyone.

Original Photo by Maureen McCauley

Webinar: Adoptees and Suicide Prevention

Last night (October 26, 2021), United Suicide Survivors International hosted a powerful webinar featuring four adult adoptees. Suicide is a tough subject, and the connection with adoption can seem surprising and troubling. I hope you will watch the video, and listen to the wisdom of Amanda Transue-Woolston, Kevin Barhydt, Jessenia Arias, and Lynelle Long. These four amazing people include authors, founders of adoptee-led and adoptee-focused organizations, and selfless contributors to improving the lives of adoptees.All have experienced suicidal ideation. As an adoptive parent, I am grateful to and in awe of them.

They do not seek attention or congratulations for their work. At the webinar, they shared their stories with grace, and they offered information, resources, and hope.

There were several important points. One that struck me was that, for many, 14 years of age was an especially pivotal time. For those of you who are raising teens, be aware that this age, with its hormones and developmental awakenings, may be particularly vulnerable. I am not a therapist, and of course you should consult with professionals as needed. I was though struck by this.

Another takeaway might be that while therapy can be valuable and vital to adoptees, if a child/teen is in therapy, the adoptive parents should be going too. Dropping off the teen at therapy is important: going to therapy yourself, as the parent, is also. I’d add that adoptive parents could also attend therapy even when their child is an adult.

If you are looking for therapists who are also adoptees, here is an excellent list, curated by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker.

I was heartened to see how many adopted adults attended, as well as adoptive parents and agency folks. The Chat was full of comments and questions. The whole webinar had a compelling energy, of both vulnerability and strength.

We skimmed only the surface in this hour, and there are many subjects we plan to dive into in the future. If you have ideas about topics, please feel free to share them here.

Take good care of yourself. Exercise self-care. Learn how to ask and talk about suicide, as one means of preventing suicide. I’ll be posting more resources soon. Help and information are available here and here, as starting points.

Be sure to follow the work of United Suicide Survivors International. They are the first suicide prevention platform I am aware of that has presented a webinar connected with adoption, and I appreciate that very much. Stay tuned for more.

Here is the video of the webinar via Facebook: https://fb.watch/8VjxPAQWyG/

Adoption and Suicide Prevention: An Upcoming Webinar

I am helping put together a webinar with a suicide prevention organization about the intersection of suicide and adoption. The focus will be on adoptees; they will be the main and most valuable speakers. There are two goals we are focusing on now: bringing greater awareness about suicide (grief, trauma, loss) in the adoption community, and providing resources and strategies for talking about and preventing suicide.

What would you like to have in a webinar like this? What questions might you pose, might you like to see answered/discussed?

You are welcome to respond here, or to contact me at Maureen at LightofDayStories dot comI am reaching out to various experts, and am energized by doing so. I recognize the complexity of this subject and discussion. We can do a lot to create a climate that provides help, intervention, and support. I hope to hear from you.

Adoptees and Suicide: Resources and Thoughts for Adoptive Parents (And Others)

As the White adoptive parent of 4 Black children (two born in the U.S., two born in Ethiopia; now adults in their 30’s), I have learned a great deal about both the joys and sorrows of adoption. One of the sorrows is that some adoptees struggle mightily with depression and trauma, no matter how deeply they are loved. This can become especially pronounced in adolescence. For those adoptees who are placed in abusive adoptive families, I can only imagine how horrific, lonely, and devastating their struggle must be.

Many adoptees do just fine. I don’t want to pathologize adoption or adoptees. That said, I urge all of us adoptive parents in particular to get a deeper understanding of suicide prevention, and to know that there are signs, treatments, and actions we can take.

I know of at least four Ethiopian adoptees who died by suicide. A (not adopted) Ethiopian 7th grader died by suicide a few years ago here in Washington; his parents are immigrants. They, their family, and their community have been devastated by the loss, as is, I am sure, any parent whose child has died by suicide. The parents and other family members need support and hope, which can come in many forms, as they try to recover and heal.

In my writing on adoption, I always try to promote the voices of adult adoptees, their lived experiences, their stories, and their professional expertise. 

Here are some examples of the voices we should be aware of and learn from, even as we are talking about the wrenching subject of suicide. There is a Facebook page Stop Adoptee Suicide set up by and for adoptees; there are some great resources listed on the page. There will be an Adoptee Remembrance Day October 30 organized by the adoptee leadership of Adoptees Connect. The page Intercountry Adoptee Memorials was created by Intercountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV) to honor those who adoptees who died by suicide or at the hands of their adoptive family.

Besides a willingness to read, and to make efforts to help families recover and heal, what can we do? 

Know that talking about suicide will not make someone suicidal. In fact, it can reduce the risk. Learn more here. That’s the site of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Consider consulting with therapists who are adoptees. Here is a list, created by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker, of U.S. based adoptee-therapists. Dr. Wirta-Leiker is herself an adoptee and is also an adoptive parent.

Listen to adoptee-led discussions.

* One great podcast is Canada-based AdopteesOn; the Healing Series on suicide is thoughtful and powerful.

* Another excellent resource is AdoptedFeels, an Australia-based podcast hosted by two international adoptees, which had a 3-part series on adoption and suicide. Look here for the episodes.

 * Adapted podcasts (for Korean adoptees living in Korea and elsewhere) has had at least two episodes related to suicide.

* In September, Adoption Mosaic will hold a “We the Experts” program on suicide and adoption. The experts are adoptees. Non-adoptees (adoptive parents, partners, friends, support folx of adoptees) are invited to attend as well, and agree to be silent: to intentionally listen and learn. Stay tuned for more information soon.

 When looking for resources for your child, look for adoption-competent therapists. Ask what their training is in adoption and trauma. The Center for Adoption Support and Education has trained more than 1800 therapists in 18 states via a curriculum called Training for Adoption Competency. 

Keep these resources handy:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number: 1-800-273-8255 (Note: in 2022, there will be a 3 digit number for folx to call, but that is not in service yet. Keep using the number provided above until then.)

The Lifeline page has a link for resources for youth who might be struggling.

The Crisis Text Line can be reached  by texting HOME 741741 in the U.S. and Canada. You can text 85258 in the UK, and 50808 in Ireland. It is available 24/7.

Here’s an article I wrote on Adoptees and Suicide Risk, for a publication of Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the role that racism and bullying (including cyberbullying) can play in the lives and deaths of adoptees.

The parents of Kaleab Schmidt, an Ethiopian adoptee who died by suicide in 2018, are working hard to get their school system to face the racism and racial bullying that their son endured at school. Kaleab had many struggles: abuse in Ethiopia, the loss of both Ethiopian parents, deep trauma endured there as a little child. If you believe that adoption itself is a trauma (the separation from one’s mother, the deep grief of losing one’s only known family, and in the case of international adoption, losing one’s country, language, history, and heritage), then you understand that Kaleab experienced many traumas. Add to that the blatant racism and bullying he received as the only Black student at his school, and the fact that (from the reports) no genuine effort appears to have been made by the school to address the bullying or the racism, and your heart continues to break.  

Racial mirrors matter. Surround adoptees with people who look like them. Racial isolation is painful. 

  • The Adopted Life blog of Black transracial adoptee Angela Tucker has several posts, videos, and interviews about the impact of racism on adoptees.

“The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee by Susan Harris O’Connor, a Black transracial adoptee; “In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption” by Ronda M. Roorda, a Black transracial adoptee, and “Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption,” edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, a Korean transracial adoptee, are just a few examples of books written by (as Adoption Mosaic says) the experts in adoption: adoptees.

For more general information: Here’s a British site about Racism and Racist Bullying. Here’s information from the U.S. National Education Association on How to respond to incidents of racism, bullying, and hate in schools. There is a link in the article to some additional resources. I realize most school are doing remote learning, but the information is still relevant. Given that many kids are home and spending lots more time on social media, online bullying exists as a real and ugly possibility. Here’s one resource about cyberbullying directed toward teens. Here’s another more general one for children and teens: Cyberbullying.

Kaleab Schmidt, who died at 13 years old, was a victim of cyberbullying, among other racist incidents, according to an inquest requested by his parents. “School officials testified there was allegedly a Snapchat group called ‘I Hate Kaleab Schmidt’ created by students at Greenall High School.”

Imagine if that were your child.

We all need to work harder at protecting children from racism and other forms of abuse.

If your White adoption social worker did not prepare you well for transracial adoption (and I feel safe in saying that was the case for many adoptive parents), there are plenty of adoptees who can provide incredible information and insights. Listen to them. If your adopted child is a victim of bullying in school or on the web, especially of adoption- or race-related bullying, advocate fiercely for them. I realize some bullying can be inevitable, but racial-based bullying can be horrifyingly intense for a transracially adopted child whose white parents haven’t experienced racism. When the children grow up and go out into the world, the racism can be gutting.

This has to stop. Hard work and hard conversations must happen. May Kaleab and all those who died too soon rest in peace and in power.

San Juan Islands, 2016 &Copy; Maureen McCauley

 

 

 

Suicide, Adoptees, The Military

Is there any correlation or intersection among adoption, military service, and suicide? I don’t know. Here’s some sad news: 25 year old XinHua Mesenburg, adopted from China when he was 8 years old and a Senior Airman in the US Air Force, died by suicide on January 5.

XinHua’s adoptive father posted about his son’s death on his Facebook page. The family is, of course, devastated.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/01/07/father-posts-heartbreaking-note-after-andrews-airmans-apparent-suicide/

Did you know that 20 military veterans/active service members die by suicide every day? An incredibly tragic statistic. More information is available here.

I’ve written a lot about adoptee suicide, and about resources. Hard as it is, we need to keep listening, learning, and speaking out about suicide prevention.

May XinHua’s family find peace and healing.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

CrisisText Line: Text to 741741

The Delicate Dance of Writing About Suicide (And Adoption)

Writing about suicide is thorny. There’s the possibility of raising awareness, providing resources, sharing strategies for prevention, and helping others.

There’s also the possibility of instigating copycat suicides, of overstepping boundaries of privacy, and of sensationalizing a tragedy.

It is a delicate dance. I’ve written many times about adoptee suicides, and I have never done so lightly. If I have to write about it again, here are my thoughts.

Suicide is probably one of the most difficult topics for humans to talk about and think about.

Historically, there has been shame associated with suicide. It has been considered a crime. Some religious beliefs say that those who die by suicide will not get into heaven, and that causes an additional layer of heartbreak for survivors.

“Removing the shame surrounding suicide can and does offer healing. Whoever suffers, whether victim or survivor, needs to know they’re not alone. Others have been lost, too, and they can show us a way out of hell and back to life.” Read more here, about “Suicide and Shame.”

We need to talk about suicide prevention, and about suicide, trauma, and adoption. We need to talk about the fact that adoptees, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are four times more likely to attempt (not commit) suicide. We must be aware of that, and also balance it by not viewing all adoptees as fragile or broken. Balance and discernment are important.

That said, I’m not sure I can understate the role of bullying in child/teen suicides. Cyberbullying and bullycide are terms we all need to be familiar with. Share this information with friends, teachers, pastors, therapists, school principals, guidance counselors, the PTA-PTO, and anyone else. Have it on your radar. Don’t let others dismiss the impact that bullying can have on children and teens. Don’t dismiss it yourself.

 

This is a painful, important article: “Child Suicide Is Plaguing the Black Community At an Alarming Rate.” If we add the complexity of being adopted, of being transracially adopted, of being internationally adopted, and of being adopted at an older age, we can see an intersection that deserves care. Add on issues around sexuality, gender, and violence, and it’s even more complex.

According to the CDC, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages10 to 24, and LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. In a national survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt in their lifetime and 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.

Teen Vogue published “How To Talk To Your Friends About Suicide.” An excerpt: “…having open and responsible conversations about suicide can actually help prevent it. ‘For every one person that dies by suicide here in the United States, there are about 278 other people that think seriously about suicide but don’t kill themselves,’ John Draper, PhD, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, tells Teen Vogue. ‘What that tells us is…the overwhelming majority of suicides are prevented; and they’re prevented because people talk with each other and talk with others in ways that get help. And if we are more supportive with each other or find ways to help people through a crisis, or find ways to help ourselves through a crisis…we can get to the other side of it.’ ”

Another article that may be of interest is this one, also from Teen Vogue: “How To Talk About Suicide” “When the media or popular YouTubers share painful imagery but don’t offer support or information for what to do when you’re in crisis, it can leave vulnerable individuals feeling hopeless and alone.”

Point taken, and it’s an important one. I’ve posted often about suicides, and also about resources.

When I write about suicide, I will always provide support and information. Here are some important new ones.

Share this one with therapists and others:  “The Best Way to Save People From Suicide”

Dr. Ursula Whiteside is among those cited in the article. Based in Seattle, she is an expert in DBT, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I have known many folks, especially pre-teens and adolescents, who have benefited from DBT. Dr. Whiteside and the author of the article above, Jason Cherkis, held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session recently to discuss the article and suicide prevention. I asked Dr. Whiteside for suggestions specifically for adoptive parents who worry about their kids, and this was her reply:

“If you could teach parents and kids basic things about the function of emotions (communicate to self and others, motivate behavior) and reinforcement and validation principles, that would be huge. Check out DBT in Schools for ideas. Also “Don’t Shoot the Dog” for reinforcement principals.”

I know how scary the subject of suicide is, how frightening it is for parents, for anyone. I am convinced we can do a better job in supporting each other by talking about suicide and especially about suicide prevention. We are seeing a statistical rise in suicides and suicide attempts, especially among children. Let’s create an informed community. Let’s keep learning, and talking.

Someone is available 24/7 to talk: Call 1-800-273-8255. This is the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

You can also text 741741, and someone will respond—usually within 13 seconds. Counselors will listen, and can provide resources for you. You don’t have to be suicidal to text—they will talk with you if you need someone to listen, if you have a friend who is talking about suicide, or if you are feeling suicidal. Here’s great info about using this text resource: The Five Biggest Myths About Crisis Text Line of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Here’s a list of international suicide hotlines.

Here is a page with international suicide hotlines as well as other resources.

There is help and support. You are not alone.