I frequently listen to the Live Inspired podcast with John O' Leary, usually while on a run or a long drive. John is a great speaker with an inspirational story having survived severe burns in an accident as a child. He is an international keynote speaker who has spoken to our staff and also comes to share his story with our high school students. On his podcast, he interviews all sorts of individuals and digs into their background and story, beliefs and mission. Sometimes the topics are fun and other times they are heavy. This podcast was one of the harder topics but worth hearing:
Parenting can bring great joy as well as be very hard. Sometimes the difficulties can happen in the blink of an eye, and at other times things gradually develop and take place over an extended period of time. For Sue Klebold, mother of one of the Columbine High School shooters on April 20, 1999, her life changed in a moment. In this podcast she talks about that moment and what has happened since, as well as gives advice to parents on how to talk with our kids about their mental health and the difficult topic of suicide. After years of dealing with her own grief and guilt, Sue is dedicating her time to help others and suicide awareness. Below are some direct quotes and notes that I took while listening:
- Ask your kids to tell you something about themselves that no one understands and causes them pain. When your kids answer, don’t correct it or fix it. Instead say, "Tell me more." We as parents want to fix it. We have a tendency to try and fix things. We want our kids to be happy. We put that burden on her kids to be happy, and our kids tell us things that I try to show that they are happy.
- When our kids have bad days and a parent we tell them, "Well, I think you’re pretty" or "I think you’re smart," it negates their feelings. Telling them "When I was a teenager I felt that way, too, it will go away" or "It will get better" moves them away from the opportunity to talk about their feelings.
- We need to ask our kids whether they ever feel so bad or so awful that they would hurt themselves or don’t want to live. Especially in today’s society, we need to ask these questions. And then not tell them that "It will get better, they have so much to be happy about." Instead we need to seek out help for them, get them counseling, help them deal with their feelings--don’t freak out--stay calm, stay focused on our love and our care.
- The National Suicide Hotline has an online chat free for kids which is a less threatening way than telling them you’re going to haul them off and send them to a counselor. Their phone number is 1-800-273-talk.
- Researchers examining the brains of people who committed suicide found that they have increased levels of serotonin but their receptors in the frontal lobe of the brain are not receiving it.
- In 78% of mass shootings the shooter is suicidal, so Sue is working to bring awareness to suicide and get more people helping those who are hurting and intervening.
- She mentioned that "the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train."
- We should practice gratitude for all the things to be thankful for in this country.
- Self care is important.
- Serving others is a gift we give to ourselves.
- It’s wrong to assume that people who commit suicide don’t love those around them. The suicidal pull is strong. One colleague who considered suicide told Sue she was thinking the things and people she loves would be better off without her.
- Our school district has created a well-being resource website for parents "as a tool to provide information and connections in the area of student academic, social, emotional and behavioral well-being."
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