Earlier this month we laid a 17 year old family member to rest. We were devastated to learn that our boys’ cousin took his own life. Benjamin was a great son, brother, a senior in high school, super smart, had amazing grades, an athlete, had many friends and excelled in life even with all the obstacles he had before him. He never showed any signs that he was unhappy with his life.
On October 24th, Benjamin woke up in the morning and ended his life. Later in the day, his parents found him in his room. No parent should ever go through this horrifying experience or have to bury a child!!
As a father of 3 boys, I can’t even imagine how earth shattering this tragedy would be. All three of my kids were close to their cousin. Benjamin and my youngest son were the same age and both seniors in high school.
As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, make sure you truly count your blessings and appreciate all the things that really matter in life.
When you see your kids, make sure you squeeze them a little tighter. Let them know how much you love them. Make sure they understand how much they are loved by their family. Things may seem fine, but they might be battling issues and harboring their true feelings.
There’s a lot of pressure on our kids these days and life has just gotten harder in the last few years. The pandemic along with many other recent tragedies have altered our children in a way that we will not understand for years to come. Depression is on the rise and it’s up to us to be there for our kids.
Keep in mind that the holidays are difficult for many. Check up on your friends and family members that are usually alone during these days. If you can, invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner or any other tradition you both celebrate.
Depression in teens is a serious mental health problem that can cause persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and emotional, functional, and physical problems.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of depression in teenagers:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Irritability or frustration over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness
- Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite, including decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Agitation or restlessness, such as pacing, hand-wringing, or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse
- Social isolation
- Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
- Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
- Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors
- Self-harm, such as cutting or burning
- Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt
It’s important to note that it can be difficult to tell the difference between ups and downs that are just part of being a teenager and teen depression.
Here are some tips that can help you support a depressed teen:
- Encourage social connection: Maintaining important friendships can help your teen continue to feel socially connected even when they’re struggling. Consider temporarily relaxing your usual rules around socializing.
- Make physical health a priority: Encourage your teen to take steps to control stress, increase resilience, and boost self-esteem to help handle issues when they arise. Practice self-care, for example, by creating a healthy sleep routine and using electronics responsibly and in moderation.
- Know when to seek professional help: If you suspect that a teenager is depressed, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help diagnose and treat depression in teens.
- Support your teen through depression treatment: Depression treatment can be a long and difficult process, but it’s important to support your teen through it. Encourage them to stick to their treatment plan and offer emotional support.
- Take care of yourself (and the rest of the family): Caring for a depressed teen can be challenging, so it’s important to take care of yourself and the rest of the family. Seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if needed.
Remember, depression is a serious illness that requires professional help. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
My goal in writing this, is to share Benjamin’s story and make sure nothing like this happens in your family. Talk to your kids, let them know you love them and keep a close eye on them.
Love you all, and wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!! ❤️