If not now, when?
That’s the question we’re left with when someone tragically takes their own life.
Last week, I read a heartbreaking story about a University of Pennsylvania track athlete who seemingly had it all, yet chose to end her life at the young age of 19.
Today, the same thing happened, although it was much closer to home. A track star at Corona Del Sol, a high school located less than a mile from my home, took his life on campus.
This was the first question that came to mind when I read the tragic news. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one asking it.
It’s normal to search for answers when something like this occurs. Unfortunately, as part of the searching process, it’s easy to get caught up in a rush to judgment. Did his parents know that something was wrong? Did his friends sense imminent danger? Why wasn’t he taking medication?
Perhaps we’ll never know the answers to these questions. However, I believe it’s absolutely necessary that we ask another question – What can we do right now to ensure that young people will never reach a state of complete hopelessness, which may ultimately lead to suicide?
Below are three strategies that I encourage ever parent to use with their child.
Assure your child that emotions are part of being human. Anger, sadness, and jealousy are not bad emotions; they are simply energy in motion. We must empower them to use the energy in a meaningful way. Whatever is repressed gets expressed.
Acknowledge any emotion your child may be feeling. As parents, it’s easy to dismiss what our kids say and perhaps label it as unnecessary whining or complaining. However, the deepest need of the human heart, regardless of age, is to be understood. When we acknowledge their emotions, we are seeking to understand. The ultimate outcome is a foundation of trust.
Tell your child you love them. I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s easy to overlook these powerful words. Don’t just say it once out of obligation; say it all of the time out of commitment.
My heart aches for the family of the young man who took his life today. I pray that we use this moment as an opportunity to educate, empower and encourage our youth.
Let’s not wait for tragedies to occur so that we can address topics like emotions and unconditional love.
If not now, when?