By Valerie Rice | January 29,2021
It was almost a year ago now that my family went into isolation. It was not necessarily a direct result of Covid, but close. We were sick and decided to stay indoors and away from people “just in case.” We had strep,, an easily remedied disease, but before we could recover, our state put a Shelter in Place order into effect. And so we have remained isolated, almost exclusively to our tiny apartment, save trips to the pharmacy and a few forays to medical providers. Many other people did this as well, seeing how it is the rule, and we all want the pandemic to go away. There are those, however, who will not, and the rise of covid continues with the unintended consequences being handed down to our children. The most terrifying consequence is not the disease itself but the rapid rise of depression and suicidal tendencies we would otherwise not have seen in this population. No, re-opening the schools is not going to make it go away, this is a multifaceted issue. But for those of you who have not had a child attempt suicide before, I am here to help. I have done this numerous times, so I am happy to walk you through it.
Yes, I know, never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down whilst being told to calm down. But calm down. For me it is an automatic switch and for tips on how to enter the auto-calm state, click here. Children look to their caregivers for guidance, and a calm caregiver makes everything go smoothly. Try to imagine that you are a candle and that you radiate calm along with your light. Appearances are everything in a crisis, and it also helps your brain remember important information.
USE VALIDATING LANGUAGE
If your child comes to you with suicidal statements, leaves you a note, or engages in suicidal behaviors such as deep cutting, attempted overdose, strangulation, etc. you need to go immediately to the local crisis center. It may require a call to 911, or a car trip to a freestanding mental health center, it all depends on your area. For more tips, click here. Now. Listen carefully. You are very lucky that your child came to you for help. They subconsciously don’t want to die. Do not, under any circumstances, accuse them of seeking attention. Why? It is belittling and not only is attention a necessary ingredient to proper development, but a death wish is something that actually requires attention. So simply express concern and love and get them the help they need. Otherwise, they may not say anything to you next time.
Your personal life is about to be dissected by a few doctors, nurses, and other well meaning individuals who are concerned for your child. This is no time for pride. Be honest and stick to the facts. Yes, you two have been fighting. Or maybe there has been an upset in finances, or what have you. Answer the questions. It is intense and uncomfortable, but not so much as I imagine planning a child’s funeral would be. Nobody is perfect, we all screw up, so admit that. The goal here is to identify possible triggers for the behavior and how to avoid a recurrence. Nobody cares about you being human, just about finding ways to help and support your family.
I mean the rules. The ones in your home that may not be the best for the current environment. If your child has no social connections and is on their phone all the time, don’t take it away. Especially not right NOW! That is their link to the world. I mean, just as an example. Or if your child needs to sleep past 6a.m. then by all means, let them. So they will start school in their jammies, who cares? Of course, that depends on who goes into class and who stays home. But you see what I mean? Keeping too rigid a schedule or regulations that do not reflect the current times can be doing more harm than good. You will get to hear all about these problems from your child’s point of view at some point during their inpatient stay. And yes, there will be an inpatient stay. They typically last a week to 10 days. Once the hospital staff and child determines what has triggered the episode, they will tell YOU, and YOU must fix it. So bend.
When your child comes home, they will have a safety plan that you must implement. It is a royal pain in the butt. All sharp objects must be locked away. Yep. That includes your kitchen utensils, so get a safe and don’t expect cooking to be a simple task. Same goes for medications, including things like tylenol and multivitamins, so make sure your safe is big enough for those too. You will also need to keep a close eye on your child for the next several weeks, be prepared to lose sleep. It will be fine.
This is not an all inclusive list, but it is a good start. You will be able to make your own way through. While opening schools will help reduce the social aspect of this problem, a reduction in family death will also help. We are, as a society, experiencing a collective trauma and a mass death event. The fact that many people are shocked by this is astounding. This trend is also seen in adults as it is with any crisis, but we seem to stop caring about adults. Joke! Almost. Too many people care only about who dies from the virus itself, not the fallout. Remember what Moriarty says: “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the landing.” Until next time, Be Well!