November 29, 2016

Let's talk about youth suicide before it's too late


By Jack Smith

Talking about suicide doesn't increase the risk of suicide.

But we need to talk about it in the right way. And we need to talk about it with our teenagers. Before it's too late.

Suicide breaks hearts. It rips families apart. It devastates friends. And it damages children. That's the dark reality of suicide, which isn't poetic at all. It's grim and it's cold and it's sad.

Ending stigma is part of the challenge, but we have to do more than just talk about suicide. We have to talk about our fears. Our anxiety. Our hurts and our brokenness.

When we bury those emotions for some who struggle with mood disorders, we plant the seeds of suicide along with them.

That's why it's important to begin a healthy discussion with our young people now. 
They need to know it's okay to struggle. They need to know it's okay to ask for help. They need to know an episode of depression or failure or disappointment doesn't have to be the end.

They need to know feelings aren't facts. They're just feelings. And they pass like a night storm that brings wind and rain but is gone before dawn.

I deeply appreciate Auburn City Schools being proactive on this issue and encouraging my daughter and I to share our story. And I could not be prouder of  her. When we make ourselves vulnerable and share our stories, secrets and stigma lose the power to hurt us. 

Thank you Dr. Karen DeLano, Dr. Shannon Pignato (a gifted and compassionate educator who cares about all of her students) and Joy Stanley.

 I'm especially grateful for Chris Hardman and Daniel Chesser for their professionalism and compassion shown throughout this series...and most of all for their care and concern for the students of Auburn High School.

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for young people. And it's by far the most preventable.

But only if we have the courage to be vulnerable and start talking.