Over the past few nights I’ve had a tough time falling asleep. It’s rare for my mind to keep racing as I lay in bed. But the last few nights are different. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how to work in some preventative parenting towards our teenagers. It all stems from situations that have happened to other parents in my community.
I don’t usually share an opinion on emotional topics, nor do I usually discuss similar situations in my blog. Today is different. In Langley there were two recent loses of teenager life in two different ways. The kids were 14 and 15.
The first loss was a teen girl who took her own life. As many know, depression can hit hard to a great many people. It’s how we help others, or seek out help ourselves, that can be a changing point in this. I don’t have a magic fix to offer here. I have had friends battle depression. Some have lost that battle (such as my friend Jeremy) but many have tackled it successfully in a variety of ways. Suicide is a tragic answer and I always feel terrible hearing about it. Both for the loss of the life and for the friends and family that have to come to term with it and questioning whether they should’ve done more. Those questions are the hardest to find an answer to.
The other lose of life was a young boy at a skate park. I don’t know much about his life, but it sounded like he was a well loved kid and whose father treated him like a best friend. All the boy wanted to do was fit in, like many teenagers. Sadly he overdosed on narcotics. But what makes this story that much more saddening is that his “friends” were Snap Chatting his finally moments laughing about how he was tripping out. From what I understand, of those who saw the videos- no one did anything to help.
What I take away from this last situation is two things:
First- Drugs really are bad. I grew up as a kid hearing to “Say NO to drugs.” As a teenager, I lived right next door to where this teen lost his life. I’m not saying I was a smart teen/young adult living in that neighborhood. I think I felt pretty untouchable and indestructible like many teens. But I knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted and eventually left those “friends” behind. I was lucky, or smart, or unsure, but somehow I have gotten to this point in my life. I have seen and heard too many stories of drug use and overdoses and how it rips a family apart.
Second- Social media can be destructive. People hiding behind a cellphone sharing videos thinking it’s amusing. How are these teens going to deal with the loss of someone so young? A vigil was a great place to start for the grieving process. But again those questions come up, “why didn’t someone help sooner?” In today’s society we hear of far too many people thinking someone else will do something.
So as a parent, I talk to my kids on a regular basis. But when their eyes glaze over and they just nod and say, “yes dad” I just hope that my message is getting through to them. My wife and I can monitor every move they make. But we hope that they are willing to talk to us or help someone in need. Not to be the coward who thinks someone else will do something. Or fear of reprisals from their peers. The loss of a child’s life is the most tragic to bestow upon a family and community.
So stay vigilant out there. Try and help those who need it. Please share with me how you talk to your teenagers about suicide, drugs and social media. I’m sure I’m not the only parent trying to get through those hard talks. We could all use a little help.