New school year & Zach's birthday
August marks the beginning of a new school year. It also marks the month that my son Zach was born. Zach would have been 22 on August 17th. He died by suicide five years ago, at the age of 16, and his death still feels like a fresh wound. Some days, I can barely get out of bed. Other days, I am consumed by grief and can't focus on anything else. The pain is as sharp as ever, but it has also given me purpose. I miss him more than anyone who has not lost a child can imagine, but I am also determined to ensure that no other parent has to go through what I have. Every day, I vow to work tirelessly to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness and support every kid in the corner who feels alone and suicidal. We can't bring Zach back, but we can honor his memory by working to ensure no family ever suffers the loss of a loved one by suicide.
We must do all we can to normalize mental health, start difficult conversations, check in with one another, and know that it is okay not to be okay. We as adults need to model this behavior for the youth in our lives. We need to create an open and safe environment where kids feel like they can talk about anything without fear of judgment. We also need to educate ourselves on the signs and symptoms of suicide so we can be there for the kids in our lives who may be struggling.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, the warning signs of suicide can include:
Having thoughts of committing suicide, threatening to hurt himself, looking for a way to hurt himself, writing about dying, and other types of suicidal ideation
Increased substance abuse, including abuse of alcohol and drugs
Feelings of purposelessness or that they have no reason to live
Feeling trapped like there is no way out of current situations or problems
Feelings of hopelessness
Withdrawal from friends and family and usual activities
Feeling uncontrolled anger and rage or wanting revenge against someone
Acting reckless and impulsive
Having dramatic mood changes
To reduce youth suicide and support struggling youth, Kid in the Corner has set an aggressive goal to reach 5,000 youth this year with our signature Penny Pledge program. Our Penny Pledge Program is trauma-informed and focuses on providing youth with the tools, skills, and language needed to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness and help save lives.
Please help us reach our goal of delivering programming to 5,000 youth this year by directing any interested school or youth organization to our School Programming page on our website for more information. https://www.kidinthecorner.org/schools
Together we can change and save lives,
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-825). If you are a parent who has lost a child to suicide, please visit griefhope.org for support.