in our school community in this past year, ten students have made suicide attempts. thankfully, none have been successful.
last night, a panel was brought together for a community discussion about the issue and how we as a town can be more supportive of the students in our midst who are really having a tough time right now.
I don't know what all of the factors are. I'm not sure if it is peer pressure and feelings of exclusion and isolation. Or stresses from their parent's economic situation. Or the struggles of being a teenager who loves passionately and whose hearts are broken easily. Or the dangers and ups and downs of alcohol and drug use. It is probably different for each and every single one of our kids. And they all need our support.
Everyone there wanted to help. They all want to make our community the type of place where this never happens. But what I think (hope) we all got out of that conversation was that 1) we can't make the problems go away and 2) all we can do is be there... truly be there for our kids. That means listening to them. That means paying attention to their problems. That means asking hard questions - including asking whether or not someone has been thinking about suicide.
I wonder if any of my kids feel like they can come to me when they are facing problems and depression. I hope that they would. I hope that I have communicated that to them. But I also know that as I work with them as a large group each week, I haven't had the time to get to know each of them on a one-on-one basis. That is something I really really want to do this year.