When we see that the numbers of teen deaths as a result of suicide are on the rise in New Hampshire, we must ask ourselves why. Over the past years, we have all been through a whirlwind of emotions as adults and children. As we asked ourselves, when will I see my friends? When will I go to school.? What will happen to my job? Where will I work? How do I help my children feel certain and safe when I don’t feel it myself? When adults look bleakly at the future, what message does that give to the children? There has been that hateful divisiveness that has broken apart so many families. And we cannot forget the losses of older adults to COVID. They are supposed to be there for the children, and so many are gone without even a goodbye.
On any day, we could see our youth being taken away from what should have been a normal process of getting older, gaining independence, trying to find themselves, and moving on with their lives. But so many have been cut off from peers, and the lack of social support has diminished those rights of passage. They find themselves trying to quickly figure out too much of their life and, sadly, alone. That leads to horrible anxiety and depression. Some try to feel better by taking substances or acting in dangerous or unhealthy ways. Because so many of them, after all, would say, does it matter?
We, as adults, know it does, and if you didn’t, you would have stopped reading this a while back. We know there is always hope, and life can, and often does, get better. We have much to reflect on in our lives, but our youth usually don’t. They need to talk, and we need to listen to them. We need to help them see that we are truly here for them, at this moment, and for the millions to come.
As we face this month of Mental Health Awareness, let us remember that we are all in this together, no matter what age or color of our skin, even with our right or left beliefs. You see, our different religions don’t matter when we face the fact that we all breathe the same air and share the same planet. Deep down inside us all is HOPE. When we accept it, we all flourish. That is a lesson well learned this month as we pay attention to mental wellness. When it comes to positive Mental Well Being, the world doesn’t need to change; we do. This is the best lesson we can teach the millions of children looking to connect and who need a safe way to do so.
So, take extra time to be with your children. There is no better time than now, and remember, sometimes they just want us to listen and be there.
Rik Cornell, LICSW
VP of Community Relations