Let the conversation begin.
Our gratitude to Kristin Molinaro, the Volunteer Program Coordinator for our Hope for Mentally Ill mental health advocacy program and proud mum of three beautiful children for her guest post this week.
Summer is coming to a close and my children already have their schedules for the year. Check. I’ve brought them new school supplies. Check. I’ve got them new clothes. Check. I’ve devised a plan to talk to them about bullying and suicide. Check. I've warned them about the Blue Whale Challenge. Have you?
Have You Talked to Your Kids About Suicide And Bullying?
Not so many of us are comfortable broaching the subject of suicide with our children, but as the school year begins, now is the time to sit your kids down and have that conversation. With cyber bullying on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and the Blue Whale challenge in full effect, our children are at an increased risk of depression and suicide. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death in adolescents and second among college students. Most people think suicide cannot happen in their families, but it can.
Back-to-School Blues Growing Phenomenon
Studies have shown that teens between the ages of 14 to 18 have a greater risk of suicide in the fall months than in summer. School can be difficult as children and teens struggle to find their place in the world, try to obtain perfect grades to get into the college of their dreams, and grapple with peer pressure. It is no secret that heading back to school in September brings on many difficult emotions.
1 in 4 Chance of Being Cyberbullied If Child Owns SmartPhone
If your child owns a smartphone, they have a one in four chance of being cyberbullied at least once during the school year. Cyberbullying can be more terrifying than physical bullying, isolating and shaming the victim around the clock with many able to access it online. Instead of an one isolated incident at school, a virtual crowd can together take part in the bullying.
Parents often do not even realize their child is the victim of cyberbullying. Bullies make a victim feel tremendous shame, guilt, and fear, leading to self-isolation. This isolation includes the victim feeling too embarrassed and ashamed to reach out for help. Does your child feel comfortable coming to you to ask for help?
9 of 10 LGBTQIA Students Report Being Bullied or Harassed
The LGBTQIA youth community desperately needs more support and resources to fight the devastating effects of bullying not just on students’ grades, but on their self-esteem and self-worth. More work needs to be done to find where the barriers to success exist and how we can better serve this clearly vulnerable population.
Nefarious Blue Whale Challenge Dares Our Children to Take Their Own Lives
You may have heard of the sadistic Blue Whale Challenge that originated in Russia and has now moved to the States. This sick game preys upon teens who are already showing signs of being depressed and vulnerable, challenging them to complete 50 challenges in 50 days.
These challenges are given by the games' anonymous curators and start simply, for example requiring the player to watch a horror movie. They then move on to more sinister tasks each week, gradually wearing the players down through increased difficulty and sleep deprivation. The game even threatens the players, saying that their families will be harmed if they do not complete all 50 tasks. Some of the last tasks are self-harm, with the final task suicide.
Players seek out curators by using hashtags #curatorfindme or #bluewhalechallenge while curators use hashtags to target kids who showed signs of depression. The success of this game depends on social media platforms frequented by teens, such as Instagram and Snapchat, perfect mediums as messages disappear and chats are well hidden.
We must ask ourselves how a game like this can possibly be made and turned into a machine for pushing our fragile-minded kids to the brink of suicide. Parents and schools need to be aware of this type of game, the ways kids can find it and the way curators can find your kids. Why would our child turn to this macabre game? Clearly these are questions we need to ask our children.
6 Ways to Combat Back to School Blues and Bully-Proof Your Child
With school returning in just a few weeks, there are things parents, educators, friends, family, or anyone can do to help combat the back-to-school blues and bully-proof your child:
While we cannot protect our children from all of life’s challenges, we can be there for them with open minds and an open heart. Together, we can combat the very real issues faced by school kids and help them walk into that first day of school confident and prepared for whatever life throws at them.
Resources for Parents and Children on Bullying and Suicide