What to do when your child has thoughts of suicide

BY KELLY ROSATI Sep 19, 2019

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is not something anyone wants to think about, much less become familiar with. I have spoken often with despondent parents whose worst nightmare has become reality—their child has expressed thoughts of suicide. They are terrified, and no one they know talks about it. And when it happens to us as parents, we often have no idea what to do. Because we’re scared in the moment, our decision-making is clouded.

Caring for your child

This article is simply the parent-to-parent support I wish I’d had when those moments presented themselves. I share this with full permission of my kids who have experienced suicidal ideation and, thankfully, survived. Three of our four children have experienced these horrible thoughts. The combination of early trauma and mental illness takes a devastating and debilitating toll on their brains. But we nevertheless share a fierce conviction that we want these experiences to be able to comfort others with the comfort God gave us (2 Cor.). Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:

First, take this seriously. You will likely feel terrified, but the most important thing is to project love and nurture for your child like never before. Please show up for them in the most nurturing and loving way you can, even if you feel like they are being dramatic, seeking attention, or not counting their blessings. Beg God to help you; he will. Don’t minimize their pain, sermonize to them, or try to reason with them. Instead, be compassionate, tender, and fully attentive.

The second most important thing is to be calm and confident with your child. On the inside, you will likely feel anything but. You can say something like, “Sweetheart, I’m so glad you shared this with me, everything is going to be OK. We’re going to get you the help you need, and we’ll be right there with you every step of the way. You won’t always feel this terrible.”

Third, get professional help ASAP. Christian brothers and sisters, unless your pastor is a licensed clinical mental health provider, professional help is not the pastor or youth pastor. By all means, inform them later for prayer and practical support, but right now your child needs professional help. Don’t let fear prevent you from getting them what they need.

If your child has thought about a suicide plan, keep them in the line of sight at all times, even if that “feels excessive.” If your child is a danger to himself or anyone else, call 911 immediately. You may feel like you’re overreacting, but the old adage exists for a reason: better safe than sorry. If it’s safe to (for example, you have another person to sit with your despairing child while you drive, and you have safety locks on the doors), go ahead and drive straight to an ER to start the process of a behavioral health assessment and evaluation. Before this situation happens, know the behavioral health crisis lines, walk-in centers, or psychiatric hospitals in your city.

If your child’s suicidal condition meets criteria, he or she might be put on an involuntary hold for his or her own safety. This means that for a short period of time, the hospital has the legal authority to ensure the safety of your child. It’s always best to authorize your child’s admittance voluntarily if the professionals deem it’s warranted so they don’t have to exercise the legal option of an involuntary hold.

Parents, if this happens, it may feel like the world is coming to an end. I have spent literally hundreds of days in psychiatric hospitals. I have wept in their halls outside the view of my child. It isn’t as horrible as it feels. Your world is not coming to an end, and neither is your child’s. Your child is getting the professional help he or she needs, and you, as their loving and responsible parents, are making sure of that. Stay nurturing, calm, and confident for and around your child.

If your child is admitted, assure him that while it’s scary, it’s good that he is getting help and that he’ll be back home just as soon as he is healthy and ready. Assure him you’ll talk on the phone and visit often.

And repeat often how proud you are of her for voicing her feelings; how brave she is for receiving help; how, while she can’t know this now, you know she’ll not always feel this way. Tell her it’s okay if she doesn’t have hope—she can borrow yours.

Caring for yourself

Once you know your child is safe in a professional setting, go ahead and fall apart away from his or her view. Weep, wail, scream, but do not try to keep this inside because of shame, stoicism, or other reasons. You’ll eventually get physically sick if you do, and your child(ren) needs you. Remember, parents, you just safely led your child through a nightmare.

Take one day at a time, and don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles. Keep it simple. Cherish beauty. Rest in Jesus.

 

Sleep. Take off work if you can. If you have family leave, use it all at once or intermittently in order to set your mind at rest so that you won’t lose your job. If you find yourself barely able to function, abide noise or light, that’s normal.

Be kind and gentle toward yourself and your spouse, and get people praying for all of you. I’d recommend a good Christian counselor for yourself when you have capacity. God is with you. He is near to your broken heart and your child’s whether you can feel him or not.

Find people who love you and will just listen, not offer suggestions or try to fix things. This can be very difficult, but is important. You need those who will mourn with you as you mourn and help you bear your burdens. It’s important that you draw healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your child. You don’t have the capacity to take care of your friends or family who are emotional about what has happened. This might feel mean or rude or different from your usual family dynamics, but you need to prioritize this, or it will crush you, rendering you unable to care for your child in the time of her greatest need.

Please don’t be either reflexively anti-medicine or anti-therapy. There’s always a spiritual component to our lives, so embrace the spiritual but not to the exclusion of the other aspects. And please don’t put this burden and yoke on your suffering child, expecting them to simply pray harder and trust God. If you’ve done that already, just gently and with great love tell them you were wrong and that God loves them and will never leave them alone in their pain.

Don’t be thrown off that the professionals you deal with don’t seem too worked up about your child’s suicidal thoughts. This is their job. Cooperate kindly with them. They have hard jobs. Continue to be your child’s advocate. Be open and willing to hear the counsel the professionals want to give you. Just because you’re a mature Christian who walks with Jesus doesn’t mean you have all the answers for this. Be humble and grateful to them for the work they do.

Once your child has stabilized, make sure to access the step-down care that he or she will need. This may be therapy and psychiatry through either day treatment or outpatient care. Find what’s available, and ask questions. And as much as you’d like to forget this whole episode as a bad dream and get back to life as you know it, don’t minimize it or try to sweep everything under the rug.

Communicate openly with your child and emphasize how smart and brave it is to continue to get the help he needs. Resist the urge to “fix” your child with easy answers. Keep nurturing and loving him. If your child tells you hard things, be unfazed, assuring him that there’s nothing that can push you or God away from him.

This could be a one-time event, or it could be a feature of your child’s serious mental illness. Whatever it is, walk with the One who loves you all, and keep getting professional help. If the help you have isn’t working, keep trying. You may need supernatural endurance and perseverance. I truly can’t count the number of doctors and medicines we’ve gone through in our nearly 10 years of dealing with these issues. It’s exhausting. Take one day at a time, and don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles. Keep it simple. Cherish beauty. Rest in Jesus. Rest in bed. Be outside. Walk. Consider dogs and horses (God does some beautiful therapy for us through them.)

Don’t be surprised if you fall apart physically, emotionally, or relationally when the crisis passes. It’s typical. Be patient with yourself and your family, and get the help you need. This is imperative for survival. Keep taking care of yourself so you can take care of your children.

And be proud that, with God’s grace and wisdom, you just navigated one of life’s toughest situations. You’ll have much to offer the next parent who needs your help walking through this crisis. God never wastes our pain. He won’t waste what you’ve just been through, and he will never leave or forsake you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-8255

Kelly Rosati is the CEO of KMR Consulting. Rosati’s firm offers clients innovative, practical insights and action steps to achieve their strategic goals in communications and community and government relations. Prior to this role, Rosati was the vice president of Community… Read More

https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/what-to-do-when-your-child-has-thoughts-of-suicide

VIDEO CA Legislators Blame Religious People For High LGBT Suicide Rates – no such thing as transgender

There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None.

By Glenn T. Stanton  JUNE 27, 2019

Legislators in California have discovered yet another way to make it clear that mainstream religions holding to the sexual teachings of their sacred texts have no business doing so in the Golden State. Why? Because these faiths, which billions of good people worldwide happily hold, do not embrace homosexuality. This includes the three largest: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

In a resolution that recently passed the state assembly, “the Legislature calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance” of LGBT people. It singles out especially faith-motivated individuals and organizations.

These legislators make a very ugly accusation against such people. California lawmakers are planning to spread the idea, with the power and moral authority of the state, that such religious beliefs actually kill people, including children. The text of this bill boldly states:

WHEREAS, The stigma associated with being LGBT often created by groups in society, including therapists and religious groups, has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBT and questioning individuals…

Note the absoluteness of their conclusions, particularly two words: create and cause. Stigma, created by religious groups, causes high rates of suicide.

Do Religious People Make Others Commit Suicide?

Let it sink in. Christians, Muslims, and Jews, your beliefs make gay people kill themselves. If this is indeed true, we are among the worst of the worst kinds of people. These legislators believe this is true and are doing something about it. California is trying to insist that churches, synagogues and mosques, their leaders, congregants, grade schools, universities, and families fully and uncritically support homosexual, bisexual, and transgender identities in every way.

Thus, any teaching, preaching, writings or practices that are faithful to the clear sexual instructions of these faiths will be beyond the pale of official California values. They will not be tolerated. This charge makes this legislation overwhelmingly serious and consequential because of the seriousness of this charge. Either one party is directly culpable for deaths or the other of making such a dreadful allegation.

To be clear, what they’re proposing is a resolution and would not have the razor-sharp edge of law. But it would have the real and devastating blunt force of state-sanctioned shaming of religious convictions. They couldn’t criminalize you, but they could obliterate your reputation and your life. There are too many vivid examples of this already. Of course, this resolution will grease the skids for it becoming enforceable law.

I want to demonstrate, through some objective and undeniable facts, coupled with simple reasoning, why this long-used accusation has no foundation. The case consists of three basic points:

  • There is simply no dependable research support for the accusation. None.
  • Gay and lesbian individuals themselves report being significantly more likely to choose to attend the very churches that teach a more traditional sexual ethic than they do so-called “welcoming and affirming” churches.
  • The most dramatically gay-friendly places in the world still have incredibly and disproportionately high rates of suicides among their gay and lesbian individuals.

1. No Real Evidence

There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None. It is largely created as an ideological assumption and political cudgel. But to even question the assertion will cast you immediately as a heartless stone. Remember, any science that does not permit it to be questioned has become fundamentalist dogmatism.
There is a very small amount of literature on the general harms of family rejection (which we at Focus on the Family strongly advise against), but none showing it causessuicide. There is certainly none establishing religious causation. That is an objective fact. Quite simply, anyone making the claim family responses and religious teaching cause suicide do so absent any bit of scientific proof.

2. LGBT People Choose More Traditional Churches

Let’s look at data that raise serious questions about the “religion kills” assertion. Research done by two gay-friendly scholars from Columbia and the University of California at Los Angeles found that, to their absolute disbelief, church-attending, same-sex-attracted individuals are 2.5 times more likely to attend congregations that hold and teach a more traditional, biblical view of sexuality than they are to attend so-called welcoming and affirming churches.
Let’s consider the implications of this interesting finding. Suppose for a moment that the “religion kills” accusation is correct. Either these individuals are too dull to realize they are doing grave harm to themselves by regularly attending such churches, or they find such churches are quite lovely and helpful. Why else would they choose to wake up early on a Sunday morning and go to the trouble of getting themselves there?
This study’s abstract states, “Guided by minority stress theory, the authors hypothesized that exposure to non-affirming religious settings would lead to higher internalized homophobia, more depressive symptoms, and less psychological well-being.” They were honest in admitting they found “There was no main effect of non-affirming religion on mental health, an unexpected finding discussed in this article.” No main effect on mental health itself, much less suicide.

3. Gay-Affirming Societies Also Have High Suicide Rates

Leading gay activists and their faithful allies in the media and academia operate on a simple and seemingly reasonable premise: non-acceptance of homosexuality leads to greater levels of suicide. To reduce these tragic rates, replace non-acceptance with full affirmation and all will be well. Doing so would not only dramatically reduce suicide, but also the disproportionately higher levels of mental illness among this population, which are strongly and consistently documented. (See herehere and here for just three strong examples.)
This thesis is easy to test: Determine the most gay-affirming places in the world. Are the suicide rates of gay and lesbian individuals in these places significantly lower than in non-affirming countries?
The most gay-affirming places on the planet are the Netherlands and Scandinavia. In Amsterdam, the gay movement has received every major law, policy, or cultural accommodation they’ve requested, with nearly no opposition, and often with great celebration. They televise their annual gay pride parade, and Amsterdam spends more than a million euros a year to promote itself as “The Gay Capital of the World.” The land of windmills and tulips is gay Valhalla.
Their gay and lesbian suicide rates should be extremely low, if non-existent, right?  That is not what scholars, government officials, and clinicians find. Rates of suicide and suicidal ideation among gay youth and adults are remarkably, tragically high in the Netherlands. Scholars even have a name for this. They call it the “Dutch Paradox.”
Despite the Netherlands’ reputation as a world leader with respect to gay rights, homosexual Dutch men have much higher rates of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts than heterosexual Dutch men. Epidemiologists report similar disparitieselsewhere in Western Europe and North America. [Emphasis mine.]
Let’s look at just a few examples of evidence. A 2006 Dutch study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that despite living “in a country with a comparatively tolerant climate regarding homosexuality” gay and lesbian-identified people were at dramatically higher risk for suicidality than the general Dutch population.
More recently, a 2016 Swedish study shows that the rate of gay males suffering from lifetime suicidal ideation there is 140 percent greater. The same measure for women there is 110 percent higher than the general population. Bisexuals are curiously even higher, with females 250 percent more likely and bisexual men 160 percent.
In France, fourth on the world’s gay-friendly list, gays and lesbians are on average 80 percent more likely to suffer suicidal ideation than their straight peers. All countries that keep such data show similar findings, regardless of changes in attitudes and policies concerning LGB-identified individuals.

Do Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Affect Rates?

With greater specificity, a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology examined how legalizing gay-marriage affected suicidality. It should have reduced it, right? Yet Swedes in same-sex marriages, enjoying their anticipated greater social acceptance and security, retained suicide rates nearly three times that of their married opposite-sex peers. The authors caution these numbers are likely an underestimation. A similar study found that Danish men in legal same-sex unions had a dramatic eightfold increase in suicide deaths over opposite-sex married peers.
The fact of the matter is this: There is no research whatsoever demonstrating significantly reduced rates of suicidal deaths or attempts among gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people as the overall acceptance or affirmation of these groups in a country increases. Any honest person who knows this literature well will admit it.
Thus, this is the conclusion that must be admitted: If the “acceptance of homosexuality equals reduction of suicide” thesis has any validity to it, a society would need to far exceed the acceptance, affirmation, and even celebratory actions of the Netherlands and other countries to demonstrate it. Of course, this is reasonably impossible. What is there left to do that these countries are not already doing?
Reasonable people, even those in the gay rights movement, must call for a sharp end to the absolutely vile and false accusation that certain mainstream religious traditions are culpable for the deaths of gay and lesbian people. The Bible Belt does not run through Amsterdam, Stockholm, or Copenhagen.
We must admit that something else is driving the tragically high suicide rates of our gay and lesbian neighbors, and it’s not traditional faith convictions. True compassion demands we find out what that cause is; these lives are too valuable to play baseless politics with.

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/06/27/ca-legislators-blame-religious-people-high-lgbt-suicide-rates/


There is no such thing as transgender – John F MacArthur

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