It's been a tough week around here. Two junior girls on the soccer team at our local high school committed suicide over the weekend. Neither of my daughters knew them, but my older daughter knows people who did. And the fact that they were girls who are very much like my older daughter has really hit home for her. Yesterday morning, she looked at me and said, "Mom, they were me in two years."
I don't know the circumstances surrounding these girls. I don't know what their home life was like. I don't know what things they were struggling with, but I do know this: Those girls felt like there was no solution to whatever issue they were facing. They literally felt there was no hope.
The death of any child or teenager is difficult, but when a suicide happens, there's so much more involved for the kids who are trying to process it. On top of the sadness, there's anger that their friend would choose to do something that would hurt others so much and there's guilt that they either didn't know their friend was struggling or that they didn't do the "right" things to stop it.
As parents, suicide is equally difficult to deal with. We're often torn between wanting to let our kids talk about it and wanting to not put too much attention on it so as not to encourage others to see it as a viable option for solving their problems. It's hard to know what to do.
But, here's the thing. Any time tragedy strikes, our kids have to be allowed to process through what has happened. They need to know that their parents are safe to talk to. They need to be allowed to cry, to rage, to howl in grief. They need to be able to talk to their friends, their ministers, and counselors if they need to. They need to know that their feelings are valid. They need to know that however they feel about things is OK.
In situations like this, though, they also need to know that the choice their friends made wasn't the right one. They need to know that no matter how bleak things look, there's always help available. They need to know that their parents are there to offer help and to listen. They need to know that no topic is off limits for discussion. And they need to know that life is always, always the right choice.
So, today, I'm asking that you hug the kids in your circle of influence tight. Talk with them about what to do when they're sad and frustrated and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be available when your kids want to talk. Take their concerns seriously. And, please, pray for my community as an entire high school full of kids deals with a tragedy that baffles both them and the adults around them and that breaks everyone's hearts.