Par­ents ad­vised to trust their gut

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER -

HEALTH •fromC1

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.

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