We held our second book club of the Structures of Suffering: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide for It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini on Thursday, May 4th. We invited Eric Wirkman from Teen Link to provide a Youth Suicide Prevention Presentation (YSPP).
Eric brainstormed with us the warning signs to look for that someone we know might be contemplating suicide. Check out our list below.
He also reviewed with us how to help a friend if we’re concerned about them. Namely:
- Showing we care.
- This could take the form of “I statements” and look like this: “I noticed you doing this, and I’m concerned/worried etc. Instead of placing blame and making accusations, such as “You’re so different now. What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this?”
- This also includes empathizing while not minimizing. Don’t say “It’s not a big deal. OR Everything will be okay.”
- Ask the question directly:
- “Are you thinking about suicide?” This questions contains no judgement, it’s a yes or no question, and there’s no confusion as to what’s being asked. It’s a difficult question to pose, but an important one.
- Talk to a trusted adult.
Finally, Eric passed out Teen Link brochures and shared with us these important resources:
Teen Link Help Line
Call for assistance in figuring out what to do or just to have someone to talk to. Confidential and anonymous. Available every evening from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Toll Free: 1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546)
24-Hour Crisis Line
Call for immediate assistance or someone to talk to in case of an emergency. Confidential and anonymous. Chat also available during select days/times.
Toll Free: 1-866-4CRISIS (427-4747)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours)
Call for assistance or someone to talk to in case of emergency. Chat also available during select days/times.
Toll Free: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The Trevor Project (24 hours)
Call for assistance or someone to talk to in case of emergency. Focus on LGBTQ individuals. Chat and text available during select days/times.
Toll Free: 1-800-4UTREVOR (488-7386)
We also had a short but rich discussion. We talked about the warning signs that both Craig from It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Hannah from Thirteen Reasons Why displayed. Many of the students had seen the show, 13 Reasons, so they were able to talk about how her friends, classmates, teachers, counselor, and parents failed her. We also talked a lot about Craig’s obsessive perfectionism to the detriment of nearly everything else important in his life an how that had a negative impact.
We talked about the tentacles and anchors that Craig experiences and some of us shared the tentacles and anchors that we have in our own lives.
We discussed how mental illness is a real and serious disease just like diabetes or heart disease, and even though it’s something that one will always have, it can be managed. It’s a journey of trial and error – at times medication, therapy, and other supports are necessary.
Have you read the book? What did you think?