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Supporting Our Kids

After a recent suicide prevention talk at a local high school, I had a young lady come up to me as the rest of the kids filed out of the auditorium doors. She began to open up about her mental health struggles, her past with self-harm, and her frequent thoughts of suicide. Throughout our conversation, she made several comments about how she felt like her parents didn’t understand how much she was struggling and that they didn’t care about her. Hearing her say this broke my heart.

I asked her why she felt that her parents didn’t care and she responded that she felt that they were always distracted and that their relationship had “drifted” over the past few years. As a mother, I know that her parents do care and love her beyond words, but to hear her say those things made me stop and reflect a bit. How much time are we setting aside for our kids? How much do we truly know about their daily routine, their stressors, and their coping strategies?

Life can get hectic. Somedays we may feel like we are being torn in a million different directions, but it’s crucial to put aside time every day to connect with our kids. Even if they act like they don’t want to talk about their day, deep down they do. They need to feel heard and validated. The more you talk to them about things when they are going well, the more likely they will feel comfortable coming to you when life gets hard. Kids today face stressors that we didn’t experience until much later in life and they often will need our help to navigate.

I advised the young lady to go home and talk to her parents about the things she shared with me and how she felt about their relationship lately. I also got her connected with her school counselor who could also help her work through some of the other issues we talked about.

According to the Center for Disease Control, one in six high school students have had serious thoughts about suicide at least once during the school year. If that one in six kids was your child, would he/she have felt comfortable talking to you about it? We need to be sure to establish an open dialogue at home that welcomes conversation about even the most difficult topics. While having these conversations may be uncomfortable, they are essential ones to have.


Jill Hamilton, Senior Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation

Jill Hamilton has been a Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation since 2014. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Speech Communication Minor from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since working at the foundation, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition and The Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska LOSS Advisory Committee, The Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, is Chair of the Nebraska LOSS Teams Conference Planning Committee, and serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Metro Area LOSS Team.