- May 25, 2022
“Be kind to people and don’t judge, for you do not know what demons they carry and what battles they are fighting.” ~ Vashti Quiroz-Vega Typically, this time of year, I try to avoid ‘heavy’ subjects. It’s the Holiday Season, after all! But in light of recent events in our area, I just can’t. Because
“Be kind to people and don’t judge, for you do not know what demons they carry and what battles they are fighting.” ~ Vashti Quiroz-Vega
Typically, this time of year, I try to avoid ‘heavy’ subjects. It’s the Holiday Season, after all! But in light of recent events in our area, I just can’t. Because my heart absolutely breaks at the thought of another life lost in our community. Another young life.
I can’t imagine the pain of the families locally who have had to deal with losing a child to suicide.
I can’t imagine the questions they have about how it happened or what could have been done to prevent it.
Something in our society must change. We must start making mental health a priority for everyone. It is far past time that we remove the stigma of asking for help with our mental help. We wouldn’t avoid getting help for a broken arm, or if our heart wasn’t working right, why should getting help when your brain isn’t working the way it’s supposed to be any different?
And we absolutely MUST do our best as adults, parents, guardians, community members, teachers, and administrators to prevent bullying in and out of our schools.
I’ve written on this subject in the past, but obviously, we need to discuss it again.
According to the CDC, each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Psychological Association says, “More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have risk factors. The risk for suicide frequently occurs in combination with external circumstances that seem to overwhelm at-risk teens who are unable to cope with the challenges of adolescence because of predisposing vulnerabilities such as mental disorders. Examples of stressors are disciplinary problems, interpersonal losses, family violence, sexual orientation confusion, physical and sexual abuse, and being the victim of bullying.”
How many of these kids just needed someone to talk to? To hear them? To be nice to them? Or at least not be a-holes to them?
I’m not so naïve as to think everyone will get along with everyone all the time. Nor am I deluded enough to believe that being nice to everyone all of the time is feasible.
But, let’s be honest, we live in a society where it is effortless to forget that you are not, in fact, the center of the Universe. Selfies, Blogs, Social Media sites all lead us to focus on ourselves constantly. So please be sure that you are talking to your kids about how they interact with their peers. Remind them that the thoughts and feelings of others do matter — that while they have the right to stand up for themselves, they don’t have the right to do it viciously.
The anonymity of the internet, in general, makes it easy to forget that there are real people out there with real feelings, fighting real battles and struggling daily. There is no need to add to that by being cold and mean to those you somehow feel are lesser than you.
You never really know for sure the impact your words and actions can have on people. You never know when that nerve you choose to needle may be the nerve that breaks someone down.
You also never know when your social actions, which support someone and raise them up, may be the action that saves their life.
Listen, we are all guilty of having rude and mean thoughts about people. Judging them. I’m not saying it’s OK or that it isn’t something we should all work on doing less, but there is a marked difference in having those thoughts and voicing them.
What do you have to gain by being so nasty to other people? Does it really make you feel that much better to tear someone else down? What about other people has that much of an effect on your life that you can’t possibly get through the day without saying something mean about them or to them.
We all know that ‘sticks and stones’ is a trash adage. I’m not sure who wrote it, but I’ll say it again. It’s a trash adage. Words can hurt. They can out and out traumatize. Encourage your children to use their words wisely.
We live in a world where school bullying is at an all-time high. This isn’t schoolyard bullying from back in the day. This is pointedly cruel. Focusing on kids’ weaknesses and going after them until kids feel like they have nowhere to turn and nothing they can do about it.
In addition to teaching our children to be better, we also need to make sure that they have resources available to get help if and when they need it.
And I would really prefer if that alleged ‘help’ didn’t come with a side of victim-blaming. Telling kids that they need to focus on their own mental health while not addressing the cause of their mental health issues isn’t the answer. Several people working inside our schools need to take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror and take responsibility for their part in what is happening in their hallways.
Remember, “If a child lives with friendliness, they learn that the world is a nice place in which to live.”