Saturday, March 15, 2008

Safety Saturdays #5 - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline

The street entering our neighborhood widens with a park/playground fenced in the middle. One year ago today, on my way to work , I turned onto the street to find it blocked by police cars. A tarp covered the entire playground equipment, and the area was surrounded by crime scene tape.

My heart sank. The playground in the middle of our safe neighborhood is surrounded by homes. School buses pick up kids all around it. How can the playground be a crime scene?

I later learned that a young lady, who had just turned 16 about a week earlier, died by suicide that morning. She and her family lived less than a block from the playground. I did not know them, but my heart still breaks for them.

I frequently pray for the family, who moved out of our neighborhood. I pray God has brought them peace. I wish I could do something more. Maybe the information below will help someone else.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 in the United States. It results in approximately 4,600 lives of young people lost each year. We all must be alert to anyone who is potentially suicidal, and get them the help that they need as soon as possible.

This is a partial list of Suicide Warning Signs:

  • Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.(Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)

  • Expressing hopelessness.

  • Frequently complaining about headaches, stomachaches, etc.

  • Inability to concentrate.

  • Withdrawing from family and friends.

  • Making statements such as these:
    "I can't go on any longer."
    "There's no point to this stupid life."
    "Everyone would be better off without me."
    "I don't care about anything anymore."
    "I want to die."
    --And any mention of suicide--

  • Writing notes or poems about suicide or death.

  • Losing interest in most activities.

  • Giving away prized possessions.

  • Being preoccupied with death or dying.

Suicide can be prevented if people get help. Here are some resources. - Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support

Facts for Families - Teen Suicide American of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Let's Talk Facts about Teen Suicide American Psychiatric Association

Next week, I will return to the series about online safety. This was just heavy on my heart today.

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