Parents advised to trust their gut
take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the high school auditorium and will be repeated at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 in the middle school auditorium.
Missy Stolfi, director of the Western New York chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will discuss how to recognize the signs of depression and other mental health problems, initiate a conversation with children and get them appropriate help.
“It’s a scary thing to think about with your kid. The idea was we can empower parents, help break down the fears,” Stolfi said.
One of the first things Stolfi will discuss is language that perpetuates stigma about suicide. She will caution parents to say died by suicide, ended his or her life, or killed himself or herself rather than say that someone “committed” suicide, which can stigmatize the victim by making it seem like the person chose to do a bad thing. She also will suggest parents not talk about suicide attempts as failed or successful, which can imply the need to try harder on a subsequent attempt.
Youth suicide rates are increasing, and it is the second leading cause of death in young people, she said.
But it’s not bad to talk about suicide, she said.
“It’s a myth that if we talk about suicide it gives people the idea,” Stolfi said. “A lot of people are struggling, and it doesn’t matter what your background is.”
She also will advise parents to trust their gut, particularly if there is a change in behavior.
“It’s not easy to be a teenager, it never has been,” Stolfi said.
Krueger said many teens sleep with their cellphones, and get notifications and texts throughout the night, interrupting sleep. They may have 400 friends on social media, but focus on events they were excluded from.
“Many of our youth have never felt more isolated or depressed or lonely,” she said.
In February, the district will hold a session on anxiety, screening the documentary, “Angst,” which includes interviews with teens, parents and experts. And in March, another documentary, “Screenagers,” about the effects of screen time on youth, including sleep deprivation, will be shown. A panel discussion will follow.