Strategies for Preventing Teen Suicide
September 27, 2016
The Jerusalem Post — Israel’s Education and Health Ministries recently joined forces to sponsor a two-day conference on preventing suicide called Boharim Bahaim (Choosing Life), which brought together some 2,000 educational advisors.
Educational advisors in Israel, who have master’s degrees in counseling and work mostly in schools, often serve as “gatekeepers” or “emotional resuscitators” for youth who show signs of depression or suicidal behavior. The conference helped raise their awareness of emotional problems that could lead teens to attempt suicide.
Prof. Gary Diamond, a clinical psychologist and chair of BGU’s Department of Psychology, presented at the conference on how parents can be helped to fight their children’s depression and suicidal tendencies.
“We developed our technique over 20 years. Even in the best of circumstances, there are stressors in adolescence: doing schoolwork, forming your personal identify, making social friendships and romantic relationships, feeling comfortable in your body.
“Extra stressors include depression, bipolar disorder, losses due to death in the family or divorce, violence, shouting and lack of safety,” says Prof, Diamond.
“There is also victimization, discrimination because one is in an ethnic, religious or sexual minority or shows atypical behaviors. All of these can raise the risk of suicide.”
But, he says, parents can protect their children by providing a safe haven. Healthy teens use their parents for support, comfort, protection, and direction during times of severe distress.
“Kids who succeed in school have strong ties with others, but deep inside respect their parents – that can help at a time of stress and crisis.”
Prof. Diamond and colleagues teach parents to respond in an empathetic, curious, warm manner so their offspring feel loved, supported, understood, and important.
“They internalize that the parent is somebody who will be there for them and comfort them in times of need. Eventually, they will be able to soothe themselves. It is a buffer against depressive and suicidal symptoms,” adds Prof. Diamond.