0:00:00 – Speaker 1
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Today we’re doing a show on suicide. Serious topic, very serious. We’ve done a lot of preventative type conversations, like if your seven-year-old comes and asks you what is suicide, how do we respond to that and when. We’ve approached that and I write about that in my book. But what we haven’t really approached is I found a note, my kid has a plan. Like what do I do? Like my kid is suicidal right now, and so Kim and I are here and we’re not really equipped to answer that.
0:01:04 – Speaker 1
Yeah, we’re so blessed to have licensed professional therapist Jamie Mershan on this show again today. She is great at talking about not just what to do but how to have preventative conversations and finding the core reason why these scary and shocking things might be happening. And so, jamie, welcome to the show again. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be back, absolutely. So you walk in, you find a note, or maybe on social media, your kid has put something out there that makes you think, okay, they have a plan or this is on their mind. Or maybe you hear from a friend that I think there’s something wrong or scary.
0:01:40 – Speaker 3
0:01:41 – Speaker 1
What I mean. That’s really the question. What do I do? The panic sets?
0:01:44 – Speaker 4
in. What do I do when I’m not scared? Yeah?
0:01:46 – Speaker 1
what do I do, what do I not do?
0:01:48 – Speaker 4
Yeah, normally when we talk about this stuff, you know, when we find those scary things and we’re in shock, we want to take the time to process them with somebody who can help us work through it. But in these situations we don’t always have that opportunity to take the time because it’s immediate, yeah. So I think it’s important to recognize that, but then it’s also important to recognize you’re listening right now And so if you do come across this situation, remember I am equipped Like I have listened.
0:02:16 – Speaker 3
I you know, i have some tools, so um, and that’s what we’re going to do, So just knowing you’re supposed to be this child’s parent. God ordained you to be this child’s parent. You know this child and he’s going to equip you with the right words. And you equip us now with the professional stuff.
0:02:31 – Speaker 4
Yes, yes, and just start with gratitude, like praise, god. Thank you that you know. I found it, yes, and my kid is still alive, yes, So start with that, because that will help you automatically be like DSGaleo.
0:02:44 – Speaker 1
0:02:45 – Speaker 4
So once you, once you recognize that, then speak calmly to your child and just say, hey, i found this. It is very clear that you are struggling. It’s not even about saying the right thing or knowing the right thing, it’s just recognizing. I see you, i see your note, i see your pain, i see your struggle, i see that you want to go away. And so when I say that that’s always a really big question is, i believe that you do not want to go away, but I believe that you want a feeling or a situation or a circumstance to go away.
So you put it back on something else, because children are you, know you, they don’t want to go away.
0:03:33 – Speaker 1
They just want to escape. They want the thing to go away. Yes, not themselves.
0:03:36 – Speaker 4
So if you can help them process that and if you don’t feel comfortable with that, then bring them to a counselor who can help them identify what they want to go away. But then also, when you think about many teens who attempt suicide, they do it during an acute crisis and reaction to some conflict with a peer or parent or a feeling or what not Exactly.
0:03:58 – Speaker 3
Exactly Like life is over because of this.
0:04:01 – Speaker 4
Exactly, and they can’t see beyond that. So I think it’s important to give them hope in the moment, like, like I said earlier, like I see you, i’m here And it’s just listening, but I think it’s just that lack of hopelessness that they can’t see it getting better, and so one of the things is right now, this sucks. Right now you’re hurting, just using that word right now because, in their head.
0:04:26 – Speaker 2
The narrative is I’m always going to feel this way? Yes, this is never going to go away.
0:04:31 – Speaker 4
So their self-talk is in absolutes. So you can counteract that by right now. And so one of the things that I love doing with clients is going back to Ephesians 4 and it’s renewing your mind and it’s putting off and putting on. And so when a child is in suicide mode or crisis, they’re thinking thoughts from the enemy And it’s putting that off and putting on. What does God say? And so examples of that is put off, i am a mess. Put on, i’m human. Put off, i can’t do this. Put on, i can do hard things. Put off, i’m a failure. Put on, i’m learning. Put off, why is this happening? And put on, what is this teaching me? Put off, i’m forever going to feel this way. Put on, right now I feel this way.
0:05:24 – Speaker 3
And so this may not word right now. Yes, yes.
0:05:27 – Speaker 4
And so you know, in the moment you’re like Jamie, that is not realistic. I’m not going to say that stuff in the moment And you may not, but when you get your child help and as you start working through this, that is a great tool to help kids just reframe their thinking. And I love it because it’s so biblical.
0:05:46 – Speaker 3
When you go back to Ephesians four, Well, what I love about it is it’s a good tool for any parent who has a kid that says I’m a failure. You’ve just given us what to say in response to that. Yes, you know something, suicidal or not?
0:06:01 – Speaker 1
Yes, yes, Yes, i also. what came to mind, it just was so strong when you said about I see you is, i feel like in our culture right now we’re moving so fast.
0:06:10 – Speaker 2
Yes, there’s so much going on, yes.
0:06:12 – Speaker 1
And we’re looking at our phones and we’re looking at our computers and our heads are down all the time And we’re not taking a moment to really see our kids and look them in the eye and hear them and just be with them and process what’s going on or what might be going on Exactly And to be seen and understood is what they’re wanting Exactly, And you like when you’re offering help, that can just look like listening.
0:06:38 – Speaker 4
Yes, you don’t need to solve the problem or even give advice, it’s just being compassionate. I love that, not judgmental and concerned, and you can even use the word suicide. Talking about suicide does not cause suicide, so avoiding the topic could have them feel alone and uncared for. So ask if they have a plan, because that’s always a telltale sign. If they have a plan, it’s premeditated. They’ve thought about it.
0:07:01 – Speaker 3
0:07:02 – Speaker 4
Especially if it’s a plan that involves immediate, like a gunshot. Yes, you know, sometimes pills can be more of a cryout not always, so, i’m not saying that, because there are successful suicides with pills for sure. But if it’s something immediate and very violent, it’s they want to go away. They, you know, are done. And so I think it’s important that you know ask them do you have a plan? As hard as that’s going to be, it’s very telling of how immediate the situation is.
0:07:32 – Speaker 3
Well, and I would say to that parents, you have to stay calm, no matter what they say.
0:07:35 – Speaker 4
0:07:36 – Speaker 3
Like if they have a plan, you can’t gasp, you can’t break down Right.
0:07:39 – Speaker 2
You can, you have to say don’t make it about you. Thank you so much for for opening up and telling me.
0:07:44 – Speaker 3
0:07:45 – Speaker 4
And in your courage.
0:07:46 – Speaker 3
I would say go back to your point Number one. Say thank you, god, that I’m catching this now. Exactly That’s what you’re saying in your head when you’re hearing their plan And it feels out of control.
0:07:56 – Speaker 4
And so one thing that’s really helpful is, when the situation feels out of control, remind yourself what can I control? I can control removing lethal weapons such as guns, locking up pills, aware of kitchen utensils as well as ropes. So the things you can control, control. I can put my child in the car and say I love you too much to just listen. We’re going to go to their emergency room And I just want to make sure that we’re okay. I’d rather have you mad at me than something happened. I love you too much not to take you in. If you feel like it is that immediate of a situation, so get support in your life that can help you come alongside of this, and that support might be immediate where it’s the emergency room. And if you feel like it’s one of those things where they’re just having thoughts, but they’re like I wouldn’t actually do that, but sometimes I do have those thoughts, regardless, you seek professional help even when the immediate crisis passes.
0:08:51 – Speaker 3
That would be like a next day call.
0:08:53 – Speaker 4
Right, if your child is.
0:08:55 – Speaker 3
You know they don’t have a plan.
0:08:57 – Speaker 2
Yes, but they’re confiding in you.
0:08:58 – Speaker 3
Well, sometimes I want to hurt myself or I don’t want to be in this life. Then you would maybe sleep with them that night Exactly. And then I have a call.
0:09:05 – Speaker 4
Yes, the door is open and you sleep with them, exactly like you said. I mean, be the crazy parent you know like, be the one that goes too far because it’s not worth it And there’s nothing wrong with that. And then you know, after you get a plan in place, after your child gets situated, get support for yourself, and that can be within your church, trusted friend, a counselor for yourself, someone to help you process this. And I often think that we have associated fear as this, like really bad feeling. But fear is actually a thing that God has equipped us with to keep things on our radar and to keep us in tune with things. So if you’re feeling fear, thank God, because we never want to come. Come place it like oh yeah, they had that night where things were really bad and now everything’s fine.
0:09:51 – Speaker 3
That’s a great point.
0:09:52 – Speaker 4
There should be a sense of just fear, like you have this valuable thing which is your child, and if you have something valuable, of course you don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to, like you know, have become obsessed like, oh my God, is it today going to be the day Right? I’m not saying that, but there is a healthy amount of fear that keeps it us in tune with our kids.
0:10:12 – Speaker 3
Well, again it comes back to that complacency and moving so fast in the world that sometimes we don’t really see people.
0:10:18 – Speaker 4
0:10:19 – Speaker 3
And when we really see our kid and see them struggling, we need to be. We need to be like okay, something’s not right here, we need to address this because I’m fighting for my kid this way, Right, You know.
0:10:29 – Speaker 4
And then, after you get the crisis under control, after you get the situation, just practical things that you can do every day with your child is just end each day with what went well today. Or talk about sunshine, rain cloud, what was something setting in your day, what was something? rain cloud? So you talk about the good and you talk about the hard and you just normalize it. But when you are even like, let’s talk about the rainbow, which is meaning what was something crappy that happened and how can we find the good in it? Or you know what was something that was unfortunate but it ended up being okay, again, that’s helping your kids, you know, look for the good and reframe their thoughts, which is just again when something feels out of control.
We can control conversations, we can control the relationship we have with our kids and even if it’s just texting Hey son, what was your sunshine today? What was your rain cloud? if that’s more comfortable, because sometimes conversations in the beginning may be a little awkward, if that’s not the normal, so do what works for you, but I think that’s really important and it’s just another place, too, where We’ve talked a lot about transparency, and you mentioned that sometimes people don’t want to use the word like yes, i said yes, And that’ll put it in their head right but would this be another time in the healing process or You know just as conversation for your young adult or your kid to be honest about?
0:11:52 – Speaker 1
you know There was this time when I felt really overwhelmed or sad and this is what happened. I felt like in that moment it was over. Yeah, I’m not gonna be able to go out and talking about how you come out of that and move forward and you were okay.
0:12:06 – Speaker 4
Yes, and that you feel joy again. Yes, so it’s like I get it. I’ve been in the dark, but you know what like God’s been so gracious and I do have a good life And I think it’s too like with the reframing, is letting them know like life is not going to be perfect, it’s going to be hard. So it’s even like readjusting the expectation for kids. I think that they get on social media and they create stories on what they see on screenshots or people’s posts, like They’re always happy or, wow, they have so many friends and really, behind those pictures, that kid could be super lonely, yeah, but we start comparing and then we’re like, oh, my life sucks, or I feel so alone or whatnot.
0:12:45 – Speaker 3
So it’s important again that we help the kids look for the good if you’re just down tuning in, this is nextTalk radio at 2 pm On am 6 30 the word nextTalk radio is sponsored in part by PAX financial group and listeners Just like you. Everything we do at our nonprofit to keep kids safe online is accomplished through your donations To support our organization. Go to nextTalk org and click on give you.
0:13:16 – Speaker 2
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0:13:49 – Speaker 1
Today we’re talking about suicide. It’s a big, scary topic in a lot of ways, but very important because it is the leading cause of death in the US, according to the CDC across the board, and so we brought in Jamie Merchanagin to talk with us. She’s a licensed professional therapist and she just offers great wisdom on what to do and how to handle it, how to help our kids in the immediate, But also let’s talk about some of the signs. What is it that parents might notice or be concerned about, that they might see in their kids?
0:14:22 – Speaker 4
Sure, So a few of them include sadness or hopelessness, irritability, anger or hostility, frequent crying, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest and activities. If you see a drop in their grades or school performance, it could be changes in their eating and sleeping. If they suffer from low self-esteem, drugs and alcohol use. It can even be just unexplained or unusually severe violent or rebellious behavior Just stuff that’s out of character, or just a drastic personality change. It can even be talking or writing about committing suicide, or even joking about it or just almost romanticizing about it Like gosh, life with God is going to be so much better. Or where you hear them talk about just oh, i wish this would go away, or I wish I would just go away. Or just even giving away like price possessions, or if you see them escaping on their phones a lot or into the games. Those are all things that we can be looking for.
0:15:28 – Speaker 1
Well, as a parent, I’ll be honest, I’ve seen all those things.
0:15:31 – Speaker 4
Yeah, it was a list right. So yeah, so what? I guess, the point being I’m like, oh my goodness, I gotta go. Yeah, yeah.
0:15:38 – Speaker 1
No, i think, the point being it’s easy to freak out and think, okay, well, my kid’s suicidal. Yeah, no, well, we all have those moments and our kids are all going to have those moments where something on that list may apply. But it’s the pattern, the trend, more than one.
0:15:53 – Speaker 4
And the length of time. So some of that stuff can just be like oh, they’re just irritable.
0:15:57 – Speaker 3
today, But it’s like you know what?
0:16:00 – Speaker 4
This is not their normal. And so it’s just knowing yes, being in tune with your child.
0:16:05 – Speaker 3
But I think that goes back to the preventative, because when that happens you can say hey, this is out of the ordinary for you. I’ve noticed you’ve been on Instagram for three hours today straight, and that’s you don’t normally do that.
0:16:15 – Speaker 4
Yeah, are you okay?
0:16:16 – Speaker 3
Yes, you’re something bugging you, trying to escape, something like going on in the real world. Yeah, you know, just those questions to kind of draw some things out, yeah, or even you know what.
0:16:24 – Speaker 4
You don’t seem like yourself. I’m worried about you. What are your thoughts about going to see a counselor? I’ve been to a counselor before and it was really helpful.
0:16:34 – Speaker 3
This is like if it’s going on for extended time, yeah.
0:16:37 – Speaker 4
Just being proactive and just saying you know what. I wonder if it’s time we bring in the counselor. I wonder if it’s time Because they’re not opening up to you. You’re trying and it’s just not getting in there.
0:16:46 – Speaker 3
I want to ask a question about something we talked about earlier, because we have parents of all ages of kids here and the use of the word suicide. So when is too young? Okay, And because I’m looking back on my family. You know my kids now. They both know what it is. We talk about it regularly, Yeah, But with my oldest, you know, it really didn’t come up until sixth grade and she heard it at school and came home and asked me And I felt like I was kind of behind the mark there. But I mean, we don’t want to also be saying to our four year olds hey suicide is with right, and so how can we do this at different ages?
0:17:23 – Speaker 4
0:17:24 – Speaker 3
And I know it’s going to vary by family, but I just want to kind of I think we should approach that.
0:17:28 – Speaker 4
Yeah, okay, i think one of the things that I always like to keep in mind. If you have a child approach you about it, instead of offering what it means right away, just say what do you think it is, and then that will gauge what they already know about it.
And so you know, you’re like, oh, you do know what it is. Or you’re like, oh, you have misinformation, And so I think that’s a great place to start is what do you think it is, Or what do you know about that? And then you can, you know, correct it if they have a wrong meaning or emphasize it more on it. But if they’re a little you know, it kind of depends what their environment is Exposed to.
0:18:07 – Speaker 3
Yeah, what they’re exposed to If they’ve had a family member, right.
0:18:10 – Speaker 1
Yeah, well, and your kids are so different. Like my middle son, he asked things way earlier than my oldest. He just is in tune with the world in a different way, right, and he will just flat out ask anything anywhere.
0:18:23 – Speaker 4
0:18:24 – Speaker 1
And so I think again knowing your kid, knowing your kid, that’s really what it is.
0:18:28 – Speaker 3
Well, and I think you know, when they’re really young and they maybe they’re exposed to something you know an uncle commits suicide and there’s talk and you’re going to the funeral and all this stuff. If a little kid asks you, i mean in my mind I think it’s okay to be like well, that’s just when you hurt yourself, Exactly. You don’t get as graphic Now as they get older. you can handle that and they understand this is a permanent situation.
0:18:49 – Speaker 4
0:18:50 – Speaker 3
But am I on to some? I just want to make sure, absolutely.
0:18:52 – Speaker 4
Yeah, you have to think about, like, what their little minds can handle, because you don’t want to scare them And you don’t want them to have fear, like, oh, is this just what people do? Will you ever do this, mom or dad, right? Or like, if we say, oh, this is what people do when they’re sad, well then every time they see someone sad, then it’s like, oh gosh, are you going to hurt yourself? Yes, and so it’s really selective of just like you know what, when people are not feeling well, even that can be when they’re not feeling well. Okay, so what does that mean? Is it when they’re sick or whatnot? And so it’s really calling it what it is, but just being cognizant of knowing your child and knowing how they’re going to process that, but not putting fear in them.
0:19:33 – Speaker 1
Yes, and I think what you said is so key, and I just learned this recently with my oldest son saying that’s not something mommy would ever do, or that’s not something mom and dad would ever do, because I didn’t realize how quickly they go there. When they hear information, whether it has anything to do with you or not, they just imagine that happening in their own family or to their loved ones. Yes, and so I think suicide or any of these big topics, divorce it’s very important to present that as part of the conversation.
0:20:03 – Speaker 4
And letting them know. you know what, honey?
we’re talking about it now, and we might not talk about this for a while, But if it would ever pop on your head and you get worried about it, you know you can always come to us and then let them know like you know you don’t have to go through this alone If this is a worry of yours or we can pray about this or whatnot, and just letting them know that you’re equipped and you’re that safe person If they do worry about it or they’re confused by it.
0:20:28 – Speaker 1
0:20:29 – Speaker 3
I love that, i would say. I guess I just want to follow up with that too. You know, say they’ve never asked you about it and your kids are getting older and older, and older. In my mind I mean by middle school. You need to say, you need to use the word and say, or would you even say younger, i don’t know.
But I mean, i know in middle school there are suicide prevention programs out there And so I think if they’re going into middle school and you’ve never approached it, you may want to have a conversation.
0:20:55 – Speaker 4
Absolutely. I would say by nine or 10 start, and then you know, gauging the personality of your child or what they can handle. You know that’s how much you will give them the information on, or like, divulge about the situation.
0:21:08 – Speaker 3
And it’s just a hey. have you ever heard this word? Yes, and do you know anything about this?
0:21:12 – Speaker 4
0:21:13 – Speaker 3
And if they say I’ve never heard that word and I don’t know anything about it, then you can just say something really simple Like well, it’s when you hurt yourself. So if you ever hear about that, just come to me. Yes, Kind of right You don’t have to say when it’s somebody, when somebody don’t say, when somebody shoots themselves or was exactly. don’t give them plans. Yes, Exactly.
0:21:30 – Speaker 4
Don’t give them plans, but let them know it’s when people feel really, really sad and they feel like it’s a rain cloud that’s always over their head and the rain cloud’s never going away. And if you would ever feel like there’s a rain cloud and you feel sad or you feel like there’s no hope, i would want you to come talk to me, because when people get in those rain cloud places, they sometimes feel very scared or feel like they can’t talk to somebody and that there’s no way out. So just let them know what that might feel like. you know what depression feels like or what hopelessness feels like.
0:22:03 – Speaker 3
Well, and when I have these quite these conversations with my kids, when something like that I’ll say it’s even more important when you feel that you know you’re saying rain cloud. Yeah but I’ll say this is a red flag alert that you need to come tell me immediately. when you don’t want to tell me, that’s when you need to push through the hardest and tell me.
I love that And I say that to my kids all the time. When it’s going to feel awkward and uncomfortable and you’re afraid of my response, that’s when you need to tell me the most. I love that. That’s when Satan you know absolutely inside.
0:22:30 – Speaker 4
Absolutely. And one of my favorite codes and I use this a lot in session is now every time I witness a strong person, i want to know what darkness did you conquer in your story? Mountains do not rise without earthquakes, and it’s letting kids know that earthquakes are going to happen, but from those hard mountains will come and it will make you a stronger person. It’s normalizing adversity, it’s knowing that good comes from it. So right now this doesn’t feel good, right now this sucks, but you know what. Your suffering will not be wasted. And Elizabeth Elliott has a quote that I love and it’s the deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering, and out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things I know about God. So it’s just bringing it back to our maker and just knowing that he will not waste our suffering. It hurts, but that is why God’s given us a savior. That’s our need for Jesus, because life is hard.
0:23:30 – Speaker 3
Well, and prep your kids as they start getting into this middle school area. Tell them I mean, i literally tell my kids you’re going to have your heart broken, a girlfriend or boyfriend is going to break up with you and you are going to feel like it’s over. And that is when you have to come to me and we have to push through this to get like prep them for life. Storms Yep, they’re going to come. We’re going to get rejected. We’re going to feel like awful. I want to. We only have a little bit more time.
But I want to go back to what you said in the beginning, because I think it was an amazing point when you said right now I had depression and cried every day with suicide like it was bad. And the one thing I would call my mom every day I was a grown adult, pregnant and prenatal depression. I would call her every day and I would be like this is not my life right now. Right, and she would speak that to me over and over and over. This is temporary, this is a season, you’re not stuck here. And when you said that, i just think that’s so important. Even if our kids aren’t suicidal, but they’re depressed or they’re maybe addicted to drugs. They’re going through something that just feels like they’re never gonna overcome it. Just like you said, i just think the right now, this is right now. In five years, you’re gonna conquer this. You’re gonna know God more. I love those quotes that you just shared about how this is gonna develop your little character.
0:24:50 – Speaker 4
Yes, and how you can come alongside somebody and help them too, because you can relate.
0:24:56 – Speaker 1
Yes, he walked through it.
0:24:57 – Speaker 4
And so how God will use that. You can save another kid who’s on the brink of feeling hopeless too, yeah, and empathy I mean, i think empathy develops from when we’ve been in the heart Absolutely, and that is just priceless in this world. It’s just loving others and just being alongside of them.
0:25:17 – Speaker 1
Well, in the end, that’s what it’s really all about. Jamie, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show Tough topic, but thank you for some really, really great tips that we can take away right now like literally so helpful. We appreciate you being here always. Thank you for having me.
0:25:33 – Speaker 2
Thanks for joining us on nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim on AM630, the Word. You are not alone trying to figure out how to parent in this digital world. We are here with practical solutions to help you. Follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter. Find our video series and podcast at NextTalkorg. Are you ready for the nextTalk? We’ll see you next time. Incoming.
Transcribed by https://podium.page