4/4/19: Where There's Life, There's Hope (A Mantra for a Suicidal Child)
The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com
Trigger warning: tonight’s podcast is about adolescent suicide. If you or someone you love is expressing suicidal thoughts, help exists. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1800 273 8255. I will be adding a complete list of references for suicide prevention and how to discuss suicide with your children in both the show notes for the podcast and the transcript for this podcast, which will be on my blog tomorrow: www.coachedandloved.com/blog
I'm not sure what's harder to raise, hell or kids. *laughs* JUST KIDDING! Hell is easy to raise!
Hi! This is Coach MK and THIS is the Morning Mantra!
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Today’s Mantra is: Where there’s life, there’s hope.
I know you guys don’t like the scripted mantras, but I had to spend some time preparing this one. One of our own is in crisis tonight, and I would ask if you are the praying kind to keep her and her family in your prayers; if prayers aren’t your thing, please send good vibes her way and definitely keep an eye on my Coach MK Facebook page in case I put out a call for tangible support in the coming months.
FYI, this family isn’t the only one of ours in crisis tonight. This is the only one I’m allowed to reference publicly.
This afternoon I received a phone call. My phone almost never rings outside of office hours, so when it does I take it seriously. PSA you guys WHEN SOMEONE YOU KNOW CALLS YOU OUT OF THE BLUE THERE IS A REASON EFFING ANSWER UNLESS YOU ARE POOPING DRIVING OR ARE ACTUALLY ON FIRE. If you have a robocaller blocking app in place and are still so popular you can’t get any work done because your phone never stops ringing, I want to hire your PR agent!
Her voice broke as she told me her son, who is not yet a teenager, tried to take his own life. He survived but is not yet out of the woods. I asked if she had a support system in place and people that loved her by her side, and she said, “yes...but I guess I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay.”
After consulting with several mental health professionals, this is the most appropriate and true response I could muster for you, Dear Mama.
I don’t know that anything is ever going to be okay ever again, that you will ever recapture the sense of calm distraction you were able to enjoy this time last week. What I do know, is that adolescent suicide is incredibly complex and as a society we are getting better at talking about the factors that influence it rather than writing off the person as damaged. Some teens who attempt suicide are mentally ill, but most aren’t. This is what makes adolescent suicide so shocking and tragic. If it was totally predictable, it wouldn’t be on the rise and wouldn’t be a crisis, we’d be controlling it.
My crisis-driven mantras have a formula: the lifeboat and the tether. The lifeboat is a true, clean data point you can cling to to stay afloat in the dark moments. I can tell you all day long that you aren’t to blame, but without the lifeboat to cling to, a data point you can trust, you will drown in guilt. So here is your lifeboat:
Sometimes there are warning signs of the person’s intentions. However, clues may be so disguised that even a trained professional or counselor may not recognize them. Occasionally there are no discernible signs and the child’s suicide becomes a catastrophic decision that may never be understood. Your child may not be able to explain what he was thinking for a very long time.
Teenagers are moody, with severe emotional swings and overreactions to certain events, and have poor impulse control; its development is a process. Suicide is often an impulsive event.
This is to say, Adolecence looks like depression, and depression can look like adolescence. This isn’t your fault. You are a good mother. There may not have been any signs to miss. (Besides, you aren’t the only adult who encounters him. If there were signs, everyone missed them.)
The second part of a mantra is the tether, the thing that keeps you focused, upright and moving through the immediate aftermath of hospitals and psychiatric holds. The tether keeps you from drifitng away, aimlessly into the ocean of grief and guilt in that lifeboat. It keeps you connected to me and this community no matter where you are. There’s nowhere you can go, no distance so far, that this tether can’t bring you back to me when you need me.
Here is your tether: “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Your son lived. As long as he is alive there is a chance for a new beginning. Every day you wake up and he is still alive, there is a chance for better. And the odds are totally in his favor! He has parents who love him, a network of family members that love him and are willing to physically show up to rally around all of you till the storm passes, you and your husband have good jobs, good insurance, and you know how the system works. That final piece is a huge advantage, don’t forget it.
One last piece of advice, you need to start calling therapists, tonight. One for you, one for you and your husband, one for your other kids. I’ve used the word ‘crisis’ a lot in this podcast, and this event absolutely constitutes a crisis, there’s no such thing as ‘too much support’ right now. You're not expected to be anyone’s counselor or to know exactly what to do. Reaching out for professional support is important for your well being and the well being of your entire family, especially the Boy Who Lived.
The Boy Who Lived. What a beautiful thought in this dark, scary time. For what it’s worth, he lived and there is a reason for that. I have to believe there is a reason for all of the pain that we feel, and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that today you needed someone to tell you that everything would be okay and you chose to call your coach.
What you don’t know, what you couldn’t have known because I haven't thought about it in years, is that when I was in fifth grade I was bullied so badly, so relentlessly, I felt so helpless and so alone, that I impulsively decided to see if death was better. And I lived. And I grew up strong and I grew up FIERCE. I’ve never since so much as contemplated suicide since that day, and I would face much bigger, realer, shit later on. When I called my mother this evening to ask if I was in fifth or sixth grade at the time, she was clearly annoyed that I had woken her up, she had been sleeping soundly. She hasn’t worried about me in years. Everything is okay.
If any part of me or my life looks good to you now, stay tethered to the hope that the person you chose to call today has been where your son is. The road ahead may not yet be clear, but that doesn’t mean this pain won’t have a purpose, and as long as he is alive, you have hope. I sincerely hope this mantra keeps your hope alive.
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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!
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RESOURCES (Courtesy of The Mighty)
If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope.
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741.
You can call The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.
To find local resources in your area, visit To Write Love On Her Arms.
If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.
To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
If you are a veteran (or your loved one is a veteran), you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.
Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
If you are local to Denver, Visit a Walk-In Center. Colorado Crisis Services operates 6 walk-in crisis centers across metro Denver. These centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need. Click here for more information.
Do you want to learn more about how to respond to mental health problems? Find a local training at mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Learn about prevention and ways to survive suicide at suicidology.org
Go to JasonFoundation.com for resources for teacher, parents and students.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS
save.org provides in-depth discussion and educational programming for youth, community organizations, and the general public.