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  • Writer's pictureMer

Too Soon For This....

TW: suicide.

The #bigkid came home from school yesterday, excited and ready to tell us about his new seat mates and friends. He shares a passion for collecting mechanical pencil lead from the floor with a new friend, and she is, “really really nice!” He was eager for us to meet her and arrange a play date. #adorable 

He also began telling us about another new friend who transferred from a different school this year; he hesitated to tell us more, and explained that it was not appropriate for him to talk about what she said in front of his little brother. We recognized the fear in his face and I pulled the #sixlet downstairs to play while Daddy talked to our big boy. This little girl had told our son about the time, in second grade, when she was very sad and tried to kill herself. He carefully explained how she had put the tether ball rope around her neck at school because she wanted to die. He told my husband about all of this, and then we swapped kids so he could tell me.

We listened carefully, helped ease his mind, and broached the subject again after his little brother was in bed. It was clear he’d been thinking about this all evening. “Do people really try to kill themselves? Do they actually do it sometimes?” In that moment, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It was just last week that I mentioned my fear for this age; his innocence is fleeting, and I know there is much on the horizon, barreling toward us like a freight train. This is a conversation I’ve been dreading, and I’m neauseated that we’re having it with our nine year old.

Suicide is not something I shy away from discussing. If you’ve been here for the last 6+ years, you know that my older sister completed suicide in February of 2017. I’m an advocate for mental health support, a fierce protector of my people and their safety, a confidant, and a safe person for those who feel unsafe. And yet, explaining suicide to my 4th grader is foreign and scary.

I’m not ignorant to the fact that children have suicidal ideation and even complete suicide even younger than nine years old. I was just hoping we could delay this talk for a few more years, so that he didn’t have the weight of this terrible thing on his little shoulders.

We chose not to use the word suicide to explain this situation. Not just yet. Instead, we used the same words he used and discussed how, sometimes, people feel sad or unsafe and make the decision to kill themselves. We both sat on our first-born’s bed with him, telling him how to speak-up for others when they are feeling this way, and how he is always safe to tell us if he needs help or has scary thoughts. He will NEVER be in trouble for feeling sad or unsure, and everyone who loves him in this world will listen to him and keep him safe when he needs us.

When we left the room, I struggled with feeling proud about how my husband and I handled it, and wanting to burst into tears. There is no clear way to do this parenting thing. I never know what will happen with my children, how they might feel or what choices they may make. I don’t ever want them to feel like their thoughts or feelings are invalid or too scary to share. While I don’t want to dive into the depths of suicide and all that comes with it just yet, it will never be taboo in this house.

Eventually, we’ll broach the subject in another way and be sure to answer his questions. Just not now. Not for my nine year old baby, who already grapples with school shootings and war in the news, and all the scary in the world. The idea that some people leave Earth by their own hand is too much at his age. The day he learns more about it is rapidly approaching, and we are doing our best to be prepared so we can help him navigate.

For now, we’ve called the school to be sure this little girl has the support she needs, and we have eased our son’s fears. I know it will only last a while longer, and we will continue to speak to our children about acceptance and love. We can only hope they’ll learn and know we are here for them always.

That goes for you too, friends. Always here, always a safe place, and always listening.

XOXO - Mer

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