Suicide

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Cutting & Other Self-Harm: What Every Parent Needs to Know    Every parent’s worst nightmare is their child being hurt. From baby gates to GPS tracking apps, parents spend lots of time and money on making sure their kids are safe. But what about when their child is the one inflicting the pain? When a child deliberately injures their body without the intention of dying, it is called Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Shockingly, NSSI is a growing problem that usually starts in children between the ages of 12 & 14. Teens who resort to NSSI have trouble expressing their emotions in healthy ways. So how can parents reach these kids and help them find safer ways to cope?   If you suspect your child may be at risk for NSSI, here are some things you should know:    1. Clothes can be clues   Common methods of NSSI include skin cutting, scratching, burning, and self-battery, all of which usually leave visible wounds or bruises. If you notice your child wearing sweatshirts in the summer heat, excessive bandages, or chunky wristbands every day, it could be a clue that they are covering up self-injury. Another indication is if they avoid activities that expose much skin such as swimming.      2. It’s not the same as suicide   Any parent would be rightfully scared if their child injured themselves in any way, but it’s important to understand that a child using NSSI does not mean that they want to die. When people want to end their life, they often seek out the most painless way possible. Those who use NSSI on the other hand, often seek pain to distract from their emotional distress, but do so believing that their injuries are not life-threatening. Though it should come as some relief that teens using NSSI usually don’t want to die, professional help should be sought for any type of self-harm. Accidental suicide can result from NSSI and in some cases people who use NSSI have a history of suicide attempts.  If you are concerned that someone you love may be at risk for suicide, call    the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255      3. They cut for a reason   Psychologists know that all behaviors have a function – meaning no matter what a person does, there is something they feel that they are benefitting from it. So what do teens who use NSSI feel that they are getting out of hurting themselves? The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that people usually resort to NSSI for one or more of the following 3 reasons:       To   obtain relief     from a negative feeling or cognitive state e.g. stress, worry thoughts, loneliness, emptiness    To   resolve     interpersonal conflict e.g family arguments, divorce, sibling rivalry, peer conflict    To   induce     a positive feeling state e.g euphoria, decrease numbness     Their feelings of relief occur during or shortly after the act of self-injury. Understanding why your child is resorting to NSSI can help in guiding you toward the solution.     4. It can be a symptom of other disorders   NSSI can be a stand-alone problem, but it can also be a symptom of other disorders. Conditions that NSSI has been associated with include borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If a teen shows self-harming behavior, it’s important that they be evaluated by a specialist to determine if they have a mental health diagnosis and need treatment.    Click here to schedule your child’s diagnostic assessment with Dr. Marta M. Shinn, specialist in Child Psychology     5. Criticism will backfire   Trying to guilt or criticize a child out of self-harm won’t work. Often times, they are hurting themselves because of feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. You don’t have to coddle them or let them get away with everything, but try to focus most of your comments on  praising their talents and positive traits.      6. How you respond matters   It’s common for a parent to feel shock, sadness, or fear when they learn their child is harming themselves. Try not to let those emotions show, as that will make your child hesitant to openly talk to you about what they’re dealing with. Ask them how their self-harm has helped them (refer back to the functions of NSSI in point #3). Listen with love and respond without judgement. Let them know that you are there for them, but also let them know if you plan to seek the help of a specialist.     7. Emotional intelligence is key   While you can’t prevent your child from dealing with hardships in life, you do have the power to teach them how to cope with challenges in healthy ways. Emotional intelligence refers to how a person understands and copes with their emotions. Nurturing your child’s emotional intelligence, as well as working on growing your own, can improve communication and healthy expression in your family.     Click here to read our blog on fostering emotional intelligence in your child      8. You are part of the solution   If your child is harming themselves, it’s natural to wonder where you went wrong as a parent. The fact that you are reading this blog shows that you love and care for your child, and you should know that there are many different factors that can contribute to a child resorting to NSSI. A specialist in child psychology will not judge you or your child, but will help identify the challenges your teen is facing, teach your family healthy strategies moving forward, and support you in mending a strong bond.     9. Variations can help   Teen years are tough on both parents and children. Many parents find that they need a little outside help in supporting their teens during these turbulent years. There have been several therapy methods that have successfully reduced self-harming behaviors. If your child or teen has used NSSI, the specialists at Variations Psychology can help.        
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:     Baetens, I. , Claes, L. , Martin, G. , Onghena, P. , Grietens, H. , et al. (2014). Is nonsuicidal self-injury associated with parenting and family factors?. Journal of Early Adolescence, 34(3), 387-405.  Bentley, K. , Cassiello-Robbins, C. , Vittorio, L. , Sauer-Zavala, S. , & Barlow, D. (2015). Theassociation between nonsuicidal self-injury and the emotional disorders: A meta-analytic review.Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 72-88.  Bresin, K. , & Schoenleber, M. (2015). Gender differences in the prevalence of nonsuicidal self-injury: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 38, 55-64.  Chesin, Megan & N. Moster, Aviva & Jeglic, Elizabeth. (2013). Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Among Ethnically and Racially Diverse Emerging Adults: Do Factors Unique to the Minority Experience Matter?. Current Psychology. 32. 10.1007/s12144-013-9185-2.  Dahlström, Ö. , Zetterqvist, M. , Lundh, L. , Svedin, C. , & Reynolds, C. (2015). Functions of nonsuicidal self-injury: Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses in a large community sample of adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 27(1), 302-313.  Kuentzel, J. G., Arble, E. , Boutros, N. , Chugani, D. and Barnett, D. (2012), Nonsuicidal Self‐Injury in an Ethnically Diverse College Sample. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82: 291-297. doi:  10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01167.x    Lüdtke, J. , In-Albon, T. , Michel, C. , & Schmid, M. (2016). Predictors for dsm-5 nonsuicidal self-injury in female adolescent inpatients: The role of childhood maltreatment, alexithymia, and dissociation. Psychiatry Research, 239, 346-352.  Willoughby, T. , Heffer, T. , & Hamza, C. (2015). The link between nonsuicidal self-injury and acquired capability for suicide: A longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, .  Whitlock, J., Exner-Cortens, D. , Purington, A. , & Reynolds, C. (2014). Assessment of nonsuicidal self-injury: Development and initial validation of the non-suicidal self-injury–assessment tool (nssi-at). Psychological Assessment, 26(3), 935-946.  Wilkinson, P. (2013). Non-suicidal self-injury. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(Supplement 1), 75-79.  You, J. , Lin, M. , & Leung, F. (2015). A longitudinal moderated mediation model of nonsuicidal self-injury among adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(2), 381-390.  You, J. , Zheng, C. , Lin, M. , & Leung, F. (2016). Peer group impulsivity moderated the individual-level relationship between depressive symptoms and adolescent nonsuicidal self injury. Journal of Adolescence, 47, 90-99.  Young, C. , Simonton, A. , Key, S. , Barczyk, A. , & Lawson, K. (2016). Closing in on crisis: Informing clinical practice regarding nonsuicidal self-injury in youth. Journal of Pediatric Health Care   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Cutting & Other Self-Harm: What Every Parent Needs to Know.    Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/cutting-other-self-harm-what-every-parent-needs-to-know

Cutting & Other Self-Harm:
What Every Parent Needs to Know

Every parent’s biggest fear is their child getting hurt, but what’s a parent to do when their child is hurting themselves? Check out this week’s blog on Your Teen and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury: What Every Parent Needs to Know

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry    If the person had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. When a person dies by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.    “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that no one could not have prevented what happened. Other days, you might be triggered by a sentimental memory of the deceased and feel overwhelmed with emotion. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When a person dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    After experiencing the loss of someone by suicide, it can be tempting try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.    Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of a person’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.    National Suicide Prevention Hotline:    1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean    You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.    Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help.    You can change perceptions   As you process your grief, don’t forget that you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can advocate through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. The people that we meet, love, or admire are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your loved ones might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.    Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations       
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               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Coping with the Shock of Suicide . Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/coping-with-the-shock-of-suicide

Coping With the Shock of Suicide

When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help.If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Parent’s Guide: What to do When Your Child’s Friend Dies by Suicide   Most parents try to avoid having their kids deal with difficult adult issues whenever possible. However, there are times in life where parents are forced to discuss tough topics with their kids. There are few topics less disturbing and heart wrenching than having your child’s friend die by suicide. If your child has lost a friend to suicide, here are some things you should know.   Will discussing suicide give my child ideas?    In the wake of a friend’s suicide, some parents are scared to even approach the topic with their child, believing that drawing attention to suicide might plant ideas in their child’s head. While there has been research suggesting that exposure to a friend’s suicide may increase a child’s risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, parents who openly discuss suicide actually help their child work through the grieving process, giving them a healthy outlet to express emotions rather than turning to self-harm.   Does my child even want to talk to me?    The controversial show, 13 Reasons Why, depicted many loving parents being kept in the dark by their kids to what they were truly experiencing in the wake of their classmate’s suicide. Despite many children and teens’ reluctance to open up to their parents, it’s important for parents to show their love and support after tragedies occur. Even if your child seems disinterested in speaking with you, your honest communication about what happened will reduce their need to “fill in the blanks” of the story with their imagination, causing increased anxiety.   So how can a parent best support their child if they were exposed to suicide?       1. Put self-care first   Just like in those airplane safety videos, when the oxygen masks drop, you need to put yours on before you start helping others. The death of a child by suicide is shocking, confusing, and traumatizing, and you need to address your own emotions before trying to help your child. It’s normal in such a circumstance for you to feel terrified at the thought of losing your own child. Give yourself some time to process what’s happened – expect that you may feel a mix of emotions including fear, sadness, confusion, and helplessness. Identify your feelings so that you can talk openly with your child about how this tragedy has impacted you.   2. Model healthy expression   Many parents feel like they don’t know where to begin in talking to their child about suicide. Start by telling them how you feel about their friend’s death. This will model to them how to talk about their feelings honestly and without judgment. Then ask them to share how they feel. Repeat what you’ve heard them say, expressing validation and understanding of their emotions. Even if all they say is, “I don’t know,” validate that it can be hard to put words to how tragedies make us feel.   3. Explore how your child grieves   Knowing that a peer died by suicide is an overwhelming concept to bear. Pay attention to how your child grieves. Your child may experience some regressive behaviors such as wanting to sleep in your bed for a while. They may have decreased interests in some of their favorite hobbies or have trouble eating or sleeping. Many times children express grief in short outbursts between periods of acting completely fine; these moments are the perfect time to talk with them, when they are most open to discussing emotions.   If you are concerned that your child’s symptoms of grief are prolonged or impacting their daily functioning, seek help right away.       
	 Click here to learn more about Cynthia R.  Johnson, MA 
       4. Keep it age appropriate   Normally when we discuss young people committing suicide we tend to think of teenagers. Sadly, suicide rates in pre-adolescent children have been on the rise over the past few decades, with suicide being the third cause of death for American children between the ages of 10 and 14. And of course, teenagers often know younger children, so if you find yourself needing to discuss a friend’s death with a young child, be conscious of the language you use. Be honest, but avoid using graphic details. Encourage them to ask questions and answer them honestly, but simply.   5. Help them address the rumors   Unfortunately, when something as shocking happens as a young person dying by suicide, rumors tend to spread rapidly. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in them, but do address them with your child. Ask them what they’ve heard and explain to them that while some rumors may be true, you don’t know the whole story. Encourage them to refrain from making judgments or casting blame. In every suicide, there are a myriad of contributing factors, and it’s ok to never fully understand, “why.”     6. Identify the dangers   Remind your child that no matter what their friend was going through, they were not thinking clearly in that moment and were suffering from a distorted sense of reality. Emphasize that there is always a better alternative than taking one’s own life and that one impulsive decision can have devastating, permanent consequences. This is especially important if their friend had been using drugs or alcohol; remind your child that substance abuse clouds a person’s judgement and impulse control, increasing the risk of harming oneself or others.   7. Unmask depression   Though there are often red flags before suicide occurs, many people who die by suicide don’t express blatant sadness or depression to their peers. Your child may feel shocked to know that the friend who had just been at their house last week laughing and dancing around to the latest hit single could have been suffering so tremendously inside. Explain to your child the dangers of masking depression, and the importance of having someone to turn to when life feels overwhelming.   8. Establish their go-to   Depending on your child’s age, they may be very eager to come to you with problems, or they may be keeping their distance as they try to establish their independence. Either way is ok, as long as they have some trustworthy adult(s) to turn to when they are managing difficult emotions. Ask them who they feel comfortable confiding in and make sure they are aware of the counseling and mental health resources available at their school.   Parents and professionals,     check out this toolkit     for schools after a suicide    9. Revisit the conversation   Coming to terms with the death of a friend is not something that happens overnight. Revisit the conversation periodically, no matter how many screams of, “I’m fine!” you may be met with. Grieving can be a long and tumultuous process, and it helps to remind them that you are always there to love and support them as they navigate through the ups and downs.   10. Visit a specialist   While parenting has many anticipated challenges, no parent can ever feel prepared for the shocking tragedy of having a child’s friend die by suicide. If your child seems to have difficulty with their daily functioning, seems isolated, aggressive, lacks interests in fun activities, has changed eating or sleeping patterns, or is overly focused on death, seek help right away.   National Suicide Prevention Hotline:    1-800-273-8255        
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References      Center for Disease Control  https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide   http://www.sptsusa.org      Suicide Prevention Resource Center After Suicide Toolkit for Schools  http://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/AfteraSuicideToolkitforSchools.pdf      Support After Suicide   http://www.supportaftersuicide.org.au/what-to-do/communicating-with-children  Swanson, Sonja A., Colman, I. (2013). Association between exposure to suicide and suicidality outcomes in youth. CMAJ Jul 2013, 185 (10) 870-877; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.121377    How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Parent’s Guide: What to do When Your Child’s Friend Dies by Suicide.    Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/parents-guide-what-to-do-when-your-childs-friend-dies-by-suicide

Parent’s Guide: What to do When Your Child’s Friend Dies by Suicide

Most parents try to avoid having their kids deal with difficult adult issues whenever possible. However, there are times in life where parents are forced to discuss tough topics with their kids. There are few topics less disturbing and heart wrenching than having your child’s friend die by suicide. If your child has lost a friend to suicide, here are some things you should know.

Will discussing suicide give my child ideas?

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Should I Let My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why?   When Netflix released 13 Reasons Why in 2017, the show was met with a slew of controversy. The story takes place in the weeks following the suicide of a high school student named Hannah Baker. The series follows her peers as they unravel her story by listening to 13 tape recordings she left behind. Each tape details how different people in her life contributed to her choice to end her life. Many praised the series for shedding light on serious topics that society critically needs to address. Others felt that it romanticized suicide and would encourage vulnerable viewers toward self-harm.   How do I know if my child can handle it?    While most experts can see both pros and cons to the show, allowing your child to watch it should be a personal decision based on your child’s emotional maturity and mental well-being.   13 Reasons Why is not for everyone, so our specialists have developed these questions to help you decide whether or not to let your child view it:    1. Does my child want to watch it?   If your child hasn’t expressed any interest in viewing 13 Reasons Why, experts don’t believe parents should encourage it. While it’s important to discuss topics such as suicide, mental health, and sexual assault with your child, there are healthier ways to approach these topics than exposing them to the show’s graphic violence. If your child has expressed an interest in viewing the show, ask yourself the following questions before allowing them to do so.   2. Has my child been diagnosed with a mental illness?    If your child has been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety, it’s best to not allow them to watch 13 Reasons Why. Even if they have received treatment and their symptoms appear to be stabilized, the themes and images presented in the show may trigger previously harmful thoughts and emotions. Another thing to consider is that suicide has a genetic component; if mental illness and suicide run in your family, it may be wise to avoid letting your child watch the show.   3. What’s been going on in my child’s life lately?   Whether or not your child has a mental illness, consider any stressful or traumatic events that your child may have been exposed to in recent months. Did they move or change schools? Have they witnessed any violence? Did a loved one die? The story line in 13 Reasons Why shows Hannah resorting to self-harm after a series of traumatic events. If your child has recently gone through a difficult time, it is probably not a good time for them to view this series.   4. Can I commit to watching it with my child?    The National Association of Suicide Prevention recommends that children watch the show with a trusted adult. This will enable open communication about the series and will also help you control the rate at which your child watches it. If you’ve ever binge-watched a show with British actors, you may have noticed that after 5 or 6 episodes in, your thoughts start taking on a British accent. Even if your child is emotionally healthy, consuming several hours of the show at once can contribute to increased thoughts surrounding death, self-harm, and suicide.   5. What are their “resiliency resources”?   Resiliency refers to a person’s ability to recover from difficulties. While most people experience depression or trauma at some point in life, those who die by suicide tend to have a very low perception of self-resiliency. Before allowing your child to watch the show, consider their attitude and resources surrounding resiliency. Some questions to ask yourself are:    Does our family openly communicate?    Does my child have high self-esteem?    Is my child well connected with peers and school resources?    What are my child’s religious beliefs about suicide and coping with difficulty?    Does my child have adaptive coping skills? (Do they tend to “roll with the punches” when times get tough, or do they find it hard to adjust when challenges arise?)    Does our family have access to mental health and medical resources?     6. Will I investigate the show’s inaccuracies?    Because there are several aspects of the show that may be perceived in inaccurate or harmful ways, parents should discuss those issues to help their children shed light on the truth. For example, the show gives the sense that Hannah is receiving resolution in death through her tapes that detail how the people she left behind did her wrong. The truth is, when a person dies by suicide there is no resolution. There is no revenge. They don’t get to see the reactions of others after they are gone. They don’t feel a sense of justice or peace. For a helpful resource on concerning inaccuracies in the show,   check out this letter   written by school psychology experts to Netflix and the show’s producers:   7. Am I aware of suicide warning signs?   Before allowing your child to watch 13 Reasons Why, you should familiarize yourself with common red flags of suicide. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms before, during, or after watching the series, you should immediately stop allowing them to view it:    Giving away prized possessions    Behavioral changes – I.e. – withdrawal, increased disciplinary incidents at school, etc.    Changes in their appearance, self-care, or hygiene    Major mood fluctuations (this could include someone that is usually sad acting extremely happy)    Changes in grades and school performance    Preoccupation with death in conversations, social media, drawings, or writings    Suicidal threats – either direct threats such as, “I want to kill myself,” or indirect threats such as, “I want to fall asleep and never wake up ”     8. Do I know how to respond to warning signs?    A major criticism of the show has been its portrayal of adults being untrustworthy and incompetent in supporting their kids. Before allowing your child to watch the show, educate yourself on ways to help children that exhibit possible warning signs. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, here are a few tips for supporting them:    Listen while remaining calm and nonjudgmental    Ask them directly if they’ve considered suicide    Do not minimize their pain (avoid phrases like, “you need to get over it,” or, “this wouldn’t have happened if you would have listened to me in the first place”)    Keep your comments focused on their well-being    Reassure your child that help is available and you are committed to getting them the support they need    Validate their feelings, but assure them that they will not feel this way forever    Do not let your child be left unsupervised    Remove possible tools for self-harm such as firearms, knives, belts, ropes, razor blades, or medications    Get help immediately – never agree to keep their suicidal thoughts a secret     Variations can help        
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors/professional-development/learn-more/13-reasons-why-resources  https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators/information-regarding-the-upcoming-release-of-13-reasons-why-season-2  http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Should I Let My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why?   Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/should-i-let-my-teen-watch-13-reasons-why

Should I Let My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why?

When Netflix released 13 Reasons Why in 2017, the show was met with a slew of controversy. The story takes place in the weeks following the suicide of a high school student named Hannah Baker. The series follows her peers as they unravel her story by listening to 13 tape recordings she left behind. Each tape details how different people in her life contributed to her choice to end her life. Many praised the series for shedding light on serious topics that society critically needs to address. Others felt that it romanticized suicide and would encourage vulnerable viewers toward self-harm.

How do I know if my child can handle it?

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      When a Friend Dies by Suicide   The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   Why didn’t they come to me?   When a person dies, the first people we tend to sympathize with are family members, but being a friend of someone who dies by suicide presents its own unique struggles. After all, you’re the one they’re supposed to vent to when their family drives them nuts. You’re the one that’s supposed to take them out to get their mind off their crazy ex. You feel a responsibility for their well-being, and it’s hard to accept that their psychological battle was out of your control.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If you’ve lost a friend to suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry   If your friend had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. If your friend died by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.   “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that you could not have prevented your friend’s death. Other days, you’ll see an ad for your favorite band coming to town and feel devastated that you can’t call your friend to go with you. Milestones that should be enjoyable, like finding the love of your life, buying a new house, or watching your kids graduate may all have a bitter tinge knowing that your friend isn’t there to share those experiences with you. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When your friend dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    Friends play an important role in the formation of our identities, and after losing a friend it can be tempting to try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.   Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common for loved ones to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of their friend’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.  National Suicide Prevention Hotline:   1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean   You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.   Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help. Depending on their beliefs, expect that your friend’s family members might have a hard time talking about what happened or speaking up for the needs of those battling mental illness.   You can change perceptions    As their friend, you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can share your story through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the   Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     You made their life better    Know that your relationship was just as important to your friend as it was to you; their choice to end their life was based on a warped perception of reality – a feeling that death was the only viable escape from their struggles - and was not a reflection of the value they placed on your friendship. You improved their quality of life despite their internal battle.   Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. Close friends are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your friends might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.  Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations:      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). When a Friend Dies by Suicide.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/when-a-friend-dies-by-suicide

When a Friend Dies by Suicide

The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids   In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.  Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children:   Find out what they already know.    Between classmates, TV, and the internet, chances are your child may have already heard some details about the shooting. Ask them what they’ve heard before you start offering up information. Gently correct inaccuracies and let their questions guide what you will share.     Honesty is important.    If your child heard about the shooting from a classmate on the playground, it can be tempting to see if you can get away with telling them it was all made up and didn’t happen. This is not recommended, as silence on a subject suggests to your child that it is too awful to even speak of and can increase their fear of it. Model confidence and assurance in their safety as you speak to them; your kids are looking to you to see how scared they should be.   Keep it age appropriate.    For preschoolers and school aged children, use simple language and avoid gruesome details. Reassure them that they are safe. Give them extra love and attention to reinforce that you are there for them. Remind them of all of the people who are dedicated to their safety – you, their teacher, principal, etc. For adolescents, take time to listen to their feelings and thoughts about school shootings and campus safety. Remind them of what they can do to help (i.e. – reporting strangers on campus or reporting “red flag” behaviors of concerning students).   Stick to your routine    It feels natural to many parents to try to keep their children close after school shootings, but psychologists agree that the best way to model resilience and strength is by showing your child that tragedies will not stop you from living your life. Keep your child’s daily routine the same following tragic events; the consistency of school, homework, and other predictable activities will help retain some sense of normalcy among the chaos of what they’ve learned.   Censor what you can    While you can’t shield your kids from everything, try to be attentive to the amount of media coverage and adult conversations you expose your children to. If you want your older children to watch the news, record it beforehand so that you can review it to decide if it’s age appropriate.   Show a little extra patience    Your child may not blatantly express that they are struggling to process what happened, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t having difficulty coping. In the wake of horrific tragedies, it’s normal for your child to act irritably or have difficulty focusing or completing tasks. Give a little extra patience, comfort, and reassurance in the weeks that follow.   Always give hope    Any time you discuss something traumatic with your child, balance out the conversation with hopeful insights for the future. Share stories of those that survived, of people helping one another, and of the heroism and quick response of the police and first responders.     Find a specialist        
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
      While tragedies such as the shooting in Parkland are disturbing to most people, some have a harder time coping than others. If you or your child are experiencing increased anxiety, depression, appetite or sleep changes, seek support from a professional right away. A specialist who understands how trauma affects adults and children and can help you or your child learn coping skills to overcome your fear and anxiety.  Additional Resources:  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:   http://www.nctsn.org/    The National Education Association:   http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm     Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice composed of specialists in a variety of psychology domains including Clinical Psychology, School and Educational Psychology, Child Development, Psychological Testing, Educational Testing, and Training.  Our specialists provide therapy to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.  We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.  Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).      
  
       References:   Dym Bartlett, J. (2018). Resources to Help Children in the Wake of a School Shooting.  Child Trends . Retrieved online: https://www.childtrends.org/resources-help-children-wake-school-shooting  Long, C. (2018). School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events: How to Talk to Students.  The National Education Association . Retrieved online:  http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2018). Parent Guidelines for Helping Students After the Recent School Shooting. Retrieved online: http://www.nctsn.org/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids.       Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/explaining-the-unexplainable

Explaining the Unexplainable:
How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids

In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.

Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children: