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How To Talk To Your Kids About Suicide Based On Age

How to speak to your child about suicide: Age-Based Guidance

PARENT ALERT: What is a “Back to School Necklace”? What parents need to know about.

Author: Gill Dufour

As summer approaches, it’s normal to hear about all the things in school. Shopping is an activity that’s all too common to hear about at the moment—after all, going to the store for new school clothes and accessories is exciting for both kids and parents.

But if you hear students discussing back-to-school necklaces, it’s important to note that they’re not talking about new, cute jewelry. Instead, it’s a disturbing phrase (which on the surface doesn’t sound alarming) you might hear in conversation or see on social media. So what exactly is a back-to-school defeat? We explain.

What is a “back-to-school defeat”?
Urban Dictionary describes the back necklace of the school as “another name for the noose”. This is entirely because of the frustration you feel when school resumes.

Some examples of its use include: “I’m about to buy my back-to-school necklace,” “I can’t wait to get that back-to-school necklace,” “With that back-to-school necklace.” thinking about,” “That back-to-school necklace is calling me,” “I can’t wait to wear my back-to-school necklace,” etc.

So, although the necklace behind the school seems innocent enough to those who are unaware of its true meaning, it is actually a cry for help as it is a code for death by hanging.

How should parents talk about this trending back-to-school necklace phrase with their kids?
If you’re not sure how to talk about it, Samantha Westhouse, LLMSW, a psychotherapist and mother-child health social worker, recommends letting your child lead the conversation. “Start off by saying, ‘I heard about this thing called a back-to-school necklace—do you know anything about it?’” she advises. “I think an open conversation is always beneficial. It’s always important to avoid judgment so that your child feels comfortable sharing how they’re feeling.”

A lot can happen than just trying to check in. “Parents should feel empowered to talk to their children about mental health in general,” explains Emily Cavallari, LLMSW, a school social worker and child and family therapist. And in regards to back-to-school conversations, she adds, “Share personal stories about starting school each year, especially if you had feelings of dread as a child. Tell them you can teach them through any medium.” Feel the feelings or seek professional help if needed.”

Why are there so many fears among students as the school year approaches?
Some of the apprehension is understandable as students look forward to adjusting to a new normal after the summer months. “Returning to school can be overwhelming for many reasons,” shares Cavallari. “Some students struggle with ideas of a new school, a new teacher, a new schedule, etc. Students are going from a sleepy and relaxed schedule to early mornings and busy days.”

And at times, this struggle seems insurmountable for the students. After all, the CDC has revealed, “more than 1 in 3 high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40 percent increase since 2009.”

Westhouse elaborates, “I think it could be a combination of what looks like socialization on top of the age of the last two years.” “If we think about it now, 13-year-olds were 10 years old when we were all in lockdown. [They were] Virtually schooling and missing out on regular clubs, sports and socialization. Add to that the mass school shootings over the years and what we’ve experienced in our world. It all makes an impact.”

What warning signs should parents pay attention to?
“If someone is using this phrase, there is a high chance that they are struggling with their mental health,” Cavallari says. “Whether your child is seriously contemplating suicide or they use this phrase as a cry for help, signs you can look for [include] spending time alone, acting out, irritability, crying easily and frequently, sleeping more than usual, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, giving stuff up and overall behavior changes.”

Even if you haven’t heard your child use this phrase, it may be a phrase they use on their phone, explains Cavallari. “They can use it via text or social media platforms,” ​​she says. “Parents need to be aware of their children’s electronic use. Students of any age will be using this phrase and feeling these feelings, hence the symptoms in their children from young children to teens.” seek.”

What should students know about hearing or using the phrase “back-to-school-necklace” with friends?
“Students should be aware that using this phrase is very serious,” warns Cavallari. “It’s not okay to joke about harming themselves and especially killing themselves. If they’re really feeling these feelings, they shouldn’t be ashamed and seek help. If students use this phrase While listening to or seeing their friends, they should tell an adult, even if their friend tells them not to.”

Westhouse agrees, adding that even if your child or teen is quick to brush it off, they should know that “it’s serious, even if they think it’s a joke. I recommend you educate your child.” And if they see their friends using this phrase to address it with school staff.”

What resources are recommended to help children and teens who are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of returning to school?
Parents are able to be the first line of support for their children. The CDC recommends that parents “monitor their teen to facilitate healthy decision-making,” “enjoy shared activities with their teen,” and with the school by regularly volunteering or communicating with teachers and administrators. Join.

Westhouse will also advocate for schools to create a policy to help students. According to the CDC report, before the pandemic in 2019, “nearly 1 in 6 youth reported planning suicide in the past year, a 44% increase since 2009.”

To help your child feel less overwhelmed by going back to school, Cavallari recommends preparing for school early by “organizing, going to school/walking.” [their] Schedule, sleep and eat healthy, if permitted.”

Ultimately, knowledge is power, and knowing that this is an issue affecting many children and teens means that parents can have greater awareness and receive additional support. Westhouse and Cavallari both recommend seeking medical attention as well as using the new 988 suicide helpline when needed.

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