Saturday, October 27, 2007

What Kids Know.

yesterday, on one off the forums I frequent, someone posted a link to a very disturbing article about a 7 year-old who hanged himself in his bedroom, presumably finding the rigours of school and family too much for himself. This article disturbed me not so much in the content as in the somment by one psychologist that "kids don;t really undertand death..." Apparently kids think it's only temporary and they;ll come back to a better time.

come off it. how many people on that forum posted that they hated their younger years and made their first serious suicide attempts at that age or not much older. I was one of them. What kids know is that death is a permanent solution; what they DON'T know is that things can get better and hanging on by the scraps of your fingernails can sometimes leqad you to a better life without so much of th pressure that's put on you by peers, adults, and others. ASchool seems forever, especially if you;re being abused there. Having to make top grades seems forever, especially if you have the kind of parents that look at a card full of A's and one B and ask "What happened here?" instead of praising you for the good work you did. It seems you;ll never get out of it.

I was one of those kids. I started thinking about suicide when I was twelve or thereabouts, soon after one of my brother's friends asphyxiated himself in his car after a failed love affair. I remember the phone call about this vividly. I was sitting on the living room floor doing something--drawing maybe--and the phone rang. I thought, "It's Mrs. Denman and James is dead." I knew exactly what that meant. I knew what it woould mean for me if I took that way out.

people think that suicide attempts in the young are a call for attention or help, and why shouldn;t they be? Is there something wrong with asking for atttention or help? In my family is seemed so. I can;t think how many times I heard, "You just want attention," as if seeking attention from one's parents were something shameful that should be avoided at all costs.

This is one of the reasons my suicide attempts were never really serious. I KNEW what it meant to be dead and I didn;t really want to be. I just wanted things to be better. I knew if I could just hold on they were bound to get better. But I also knew that if I really tried to kill myself I would succeed because no one knew or cared how I felt. No one would check on me. No one would some looking for me until it was too late. That's a bad feeling and it makes my stomach hurt to this day. Of course this let me in for a lot of grief when I finally DID get to go see a counselor, because I was labeled as attention seeking. There's that term again. What's wrong with wanting attention???? I don;t get it even now. I also was accused of wanting to get out of school, which I did, but not by dying, really.

But what are you supposed to do when you see no other way out? Kids don't know this and it's up to us to teach them, not sit in judgment.

Parents don;t like to be blamed for kids' suicides and I agree that they have enough grief, but I also think they SHOULD be blamed. For not listening. For not being available. For waiting until it's too late to see a problem. Teachers too. I know it's not a teacher's responsibility to bring up a kid, but I can;t help but think how much easier my life might have been--not happier, just easier--if there had been ONE sympathetic adult in my life.

Why are adults so afraid to face these things that kids know? Because they have some weird notion that childhood is this magical time when everything is shiny and new? Because they've forgotten how cruel kids can be to other kids or how cruel parents can be to their own? I don;t know.

But the kids know and we should listen to them.

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