Open communication key to helping people in despair

Friday, May 12, 2017 1:58 PM

Many have read about accounts of suicide in our community. Recent weeks have been challenging, as numerous people have either attempted to take their own lives or completed suicide.

Many of these have been teenagers. Several survived their attempt and need our continued support. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those we lost. There’s not one profile or one upbringing that can explain this trend.

While none of us can truly know what’s in the mind of someone who gets to the point of despair and makes the decision to take his or her own life, it is important that we as a community continue to seek ways of creating an atmosphere where we ensure open communication and we eliminate the taboo of depression and mental illness that often causes those who struggle to hide their inner challenges.

So many of our children today seek to understand the emotions they experience. They want to make sense of their thoughts and feelings. They worry about their ability to fit in, and they fear being rejected by friends, family and those around them.

As parents, I know we strive to keep open lines of communication. Sadly, the world our children witness each and every day is one where tolerance is limited and differences aren’t always respected. We see people destroyed for their beliefs instead of recognizing their personal value, regardless of their position on an issue. Have you watched TV lately? When was the last time someone agreed to disagree without devaluing the other person?

I am hopeful that we as a community can recognize that the environment we create can have a profound effect on our children. Parents, check in with your kids regularly about school, friends and any struggles they feel. Don’t expect them to come to you. Ask, ask and then ask again. Monitor their social media. Ensure that no topic is taboo for conversations. Recognize that our children will find someone to talk to about topics if they feel shut off at home.

While we think kids want privacy, they need our listening ear, and they need to know we care. Remain focused on the issue and not the person. Love them for who they are. When children question our values, realize it’s not out of disrespect, but it is out of making sense of the world around them. Be willing to defend your own values and help them make sense of what they are feeling. Ignoring other points of view does not make them go away.

While each of us as parents play an important role, the African proverb says it best: “It takes a village to raise a child!”

Let’s unite to find ways to change the course for our children, our neighbors and our friends.

Here are some resources that can help:

Axis Health System: 24-hour crisis hotline at 247-5245 National Suicide Prevention hotline: (800) 273-TALK (8255) RED Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: (888) 628-9454 National Crisis Text Hotline: 741741 Boys Town Hotline: (800) 448-3000Safe2Tell Colorado: (877) 542-7233 Colorado Crisis Services Support Line: (844) 493-8255Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386. This is a crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Second Wind Fund: (720) 962-0706. This is not a crisis hotline, but the fund is available to youths who face social or financial barriers to crisis counseling. By referral.Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at