By Grace Abate
When you look around your classroom, odds are three of the people sitting around you have attempted to end their lives in the last year. Montana is number two in the country for suicide deaths. It’s time to be informed.
On Nov. 3, Karl Rosston, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, presented a “Signs of Suicide” seminar to Bozeman-area parents. Rosston gave statistics on suicide in Montana, the signs of suicide and depression, and how to help prevent their children from taking this path.
Some signs of depression are: giving away valued possessions, distancing oneself from friends or family, and frequent discussion of death. If you notice these warning signs, check for subtler ones, such as a lack of hygiene, complaints about boredom, newfound carelessness or a spike in accident rates.
As a parent, if you feel distanced from your child, sit down and talk to them about it. Many suicidal teens just need you to reach out to them. They might tell you it’s nothing or seem uncomfortable with the conversation you’re trying to have. Make sure they understand you are not disappointed or judging them, even if they are having suicidal thoughts, instead, you are there for them however and whenever they need you.
One of the main reasons teens attempt suicide is a feeling of disconnection from their parents. If you find yourself feeling this way, talk with your parents. Make them listen and understand your feelings. If you feel like your parents are still not connecting with you, turn to a trusted friend, who can often be just as helpful. If friends are the problem find a teacher or counselor you feel safe in confiding in. Remember: asking for help does not make you weak, getting help when you are feeling depressed is the smartest thing you could do.
If you don’t think there’s anyone in your life that you can talk to find someone outside of it to give you non-judgemental advice. If you want a real person to talk to go to the hospital, whether you go into the emergency room or walk to the front desk simply tell them you are suicidal and they will be there to help. If you want anonymity call a hotline, such as the Bozeman Help Center at (406) 586-3333. Both of these options will give you advice and help without making you feel judged.
Most teen suicides happen less than forty minutes after the thought crosses their mind, not giving them enough time to fully think through their decision or talk to anyone. Find the person you can share with and make sure you have a happy holidays.