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Suicide Prevention in Children

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I know that when an adult has decided they want to commit suicide, a person's options to help them are limited, because it takes extraordinary justification to limit the choices and activities of an adult. But what should a parent do if they suspect their child might be suicidal? How do you make sure intense depression in a kid doesn't turn deadly? What if you are a teacher, or a coach, and can see that a kid is in serious trouble? What are the options here?

I'm watching a news story about an 11-year-old boy who hung himself because of bullying at school. This seems like it happens way more than it should. When I was in high school one of the boys killed himself during the day, by all accounts a quiet and unobtrusive fellow. What should be the approach of a rational adult to protect the kids in their care? How do they deal with things like school officials, or other kids who are constantly persecuting their kid? Is part of this just a problem with public schools, or what?

I know that when I was younger I was pushed to the edge several times, for various reasons. Younger folks just don't have the perspective on what they're throwing away by making that terrible decision. What can rational people who care about kids do against this problem?

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I can comment on only one aspect of your post.

Teach them to fight back against bullies. Its the only way to stop the bullies. Any child who follows a teacher's admonishments to tell on a bully is simply marking himself as a contemptible coward in the eyes of his classmates and even many of the teachers. "Turn the other cheek" is one of those altruistic doctrines that is meant to be broken, and intended to induce guilt in people (and children) who dare to defend themselves.

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I can comment on only one aspect of your post.

Teach them to fight back against bullies. Its the only way to stop the bullies. Any child who follows a teacher's admonishments to tell on a bully is simply marking himself as a contemptible coward in the eyes of his classmates and even many of the teachers. "Turn the other cheek" is one of those altruistic doctrines that is meant to be broken, and intended to induce guilt in people (and children) who dare to defend themselves.

Unfortunately there is the matter of "zero tolerance" to contend with...

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Which somehow never seems to get applied to the bully, just the bullee.

Obviously, as bullies persist. I think it's the hockey penalty principle in action...the ref always sees the guy who throws the SECOND punch.

Also, many if not most bullies operate by verbal intimidation alone. I don't think it progresses to physical violence as much, especially with girls.

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You can't just show your kid that "life is good". They have to be taught that their life should be of value and why, and that when bullies of any type attempt to devalue them, to defend theselves. My parents did this, and even went so far as to teach some self-defense techniques since I was at a physical disadvantage.

However, only a few fights ever progress to physical fighting. A lot of bullying nowadays is done socially, through ostracization or verbal gang-ups (even with boys). That's when a sense of self-worth is the best defense, and if your kid has a sharp wit and sharper tongue they can get out of any situation easy and leaving the bully licking his wounds.

But it starts with a sense of self-worth, always. In my experience, laying the smack-down on a bully the first time is what one has to do. Kids that take the beating open themselves to more, and then they spiral down emotionally.

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If you raise your kids to be efficacious and self-confident, I think they will have what they need to deal with a bully, and most other conflicts in life. (And the adults that I have personally known that committed suicide, had troubled childhoods, so I think answering this question for kids would solve the adult problem, largely.)

How to raise an efficacious, self-confident kid is probably the real question here. I certainly don't have all those answers since I am just now interested in having a child, but it's something I plan to look into over the next year or two as I plan to start trying. One thing I know for certain, government schools foster an environment totally contradictory to raising an efficacious, self-confident child.

Edited by K-Mac
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Obviously, as bullies persist. I think it's the hockey penalty principle in action...the ref always sees the guy who throws the SECOND punch.

Also, many if not most bullies operate by verbal intimidation alone. I don't think it progresses to physical violence as much, especially with girls.

I would counsel to accept the suspension or expulsion or whatever. Official recognition does wonders for one's reputation.

There is no such thing as "verbal intimidation", those are threats. Force and threat of force have the same counter, confidence in one's ability to use your own force.

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me". A child who can't understand and internalize that words are not harmful is operating from a psychological stance of weakness. Strengthen the child.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Chris, I'd be curious what self-defense techniques and witty replies you were taught.

Nothing very official, just some easy things my dad taught from his own army training. I didn't mean to imply that I was some karate kid who beat up bullies :) Just that being able to defend yourself with as much force as needed to make a bully think twice on a second round usually keeps you safer than taking a beating.

Edited by Chris.S
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  • 2 weeks later...
Chris, I'd be curious what self-defense techniques and witty replies you were taught.

I taught my children Karate and Jiu-Jitsu. My oldest daughter was bullied relentlessly for about 3 years. She was/is a very caring person and believed that if she did all the right things (Telling the bully to stop, Telling the Teacher, telling her Mom and I and having us tell the school), that the system would work. The bully didn't stop, the Teacher was a vacuous moron who refused to acknowledge it was even bullying, school wouldn't do anything, I told her to defend herself once she had exhausted all other avenues.

When the bully pushed her down on the ice and skated back toward her during a class trip to the arena she executed a perfect side kick and caught the little bastard right below the knees (yes she was wearing skates). He spent the rest of the day warming the bench. She was never bothered again.

My other daughter is more retaliatory when the boy pulled her hair and the teacher wouldn't stop him she kicked him in the nuts. He never bothered her again either. She did get a stern talking to by me when she told me though because she had not followed the ROE. She should have moved first, then if the boy had continued she could have gone to guns with my blessing.

Edited by Zip
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Grames is correct. There are two positions in nature: dominance and submission. Timid, weak, submissive males get NO respect in life. The child needs to fight back even if he loses.

I agree with you...that said, I think there is a value in taking a beating in your life, at least once. It shows you that it's not the end of the world, and thereafter there's no reason to fear it.

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Grames is correct. There are two positions in nature: dominance and submission. Timid, weak, submissive males get NO respect in life. The child needs to fight back even if he loses.

This sounds like a child getting bullied "deserves" it, because it failed to fight back. This is ridiculous.

I think in most situations it is very very hard for the child to get out of his misery alone, because it is not the physical bullying that is the worst but the psychological aspect: Being an outcast, having no friends etc.

Most children will not have the strength to deal with such a situation alone. It is an incredible hard thing to keep self-respect when you are tortured every day. How can you ask this of a 11-year old?

In such a situation, I think a parent needs to act and more than just teach the child self-defense techniques. The parent should at least have a very serious talk with the school-board or the parents of the bullies and not hesitate to send the child to another school if the situation is really bad.

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