Dispelling a Suicide Myth

Myth: Talking about suicide or asking someone if they feel suicidal will encourage suicide attempts.

Fact: Talking about suicide will not cause someone to commit suicide.  In fact, it can be the first step in helping them choose to live.

A person who is severely depressed probably has already thought about committing suicide.  Asking them about it opens the door to talk openly and express their feelings with someone who cares about them.  Often times, talking about it can provide a sense of relief.  Listening to someone in distress and helping them to feel understood is one of the most courageous things you can do.

Photo Credit: Maurizio51( nonno ter) via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Maurizio51( nonno ter) via Compfight cc

A suicidal person feels completely alone, even when caring friends and family are right by their side.  They feel caged and can’t let go of desperate thoughts stuck in their head.  They need someone to talk to and openly discuss their most scary feelings and impulses.  Talking through these impulses, whether with loved-ones or professional psychotherapists, is one of the best ways to avoid acting on them.

Fact: Teen suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are worried about someone, step in!  Suicidal crises can be relatively short-lived and suicide can be prevented. Talking about suicide is the first step in getting a person the help they need. To learn more about how to help, go to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Beginning of a New Day

Photo Credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via Compfight cc

“This is the beginning of a new day.  You have been given this day to use as you will.  You can waste it or use it for good.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something you have left behind.  Let it be something good.” –Unknown

Personal Zen: An App Review

It can be tough to find an app that has actually been part of a research study and has been shown to work.

Personal Zen is a fun game-based app that has actually been proven to help decrease anxiety.

It is based on a concept called Attention Bias Modification Treatment. People who are anxious tend to lean toward seeing a situation as scary or negative. The treatment uses different techniques to retrain the brain to be less biased toward negative thinking.

The Personal Zen game helps you practice this skill by focusing on a positive looking face instead of a negative looking one.

It is available for free on Android and iOS so if you check it out, please let us know what you think! It is best used on a regular basis especially when you are actually feeling anxious (versus just in a regular mood). Enjoy!

Being labeled

What words describe your child? If someone did not know them at all – how would you describe them? You could probably make a long list of things. People are not one-dimensional. And even if most of the time if they are one way, in certain situations they might be the opposite. Let’s say most of the time they are a peace maker – but if someone makes fun of their sister, they will pick a fight with them. There may even be things about them that seem to be opposites – but they are both there.

Photo Credit: Tulane Publications via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Tulane Publications via Compfight cc

For example, maybe they have a lot of skill in math and science – but when it comes down to it, they could spend all their days just drawing with a charcoal pencil. People have many sides to them. And in one snapshot of their lives – they are one way – at another stage they might have left certain things behind and now there are new adjectives to describe who they are.

That being said, what does it mean to get a mental health diagnosis? Now is this something else that describes your child? Does it put a damper on their life – what does it mean when someone uses a word to describe them? He’s a depressed guy. She is an anxious girl. Sometimes when people use labels – it feels like a condemnation. Maybe it feels like they are really saying – he’s depressed – that means he is weak, no good, a failure at life, and he’ll never amount to anything. Maybe it feels like they are really saying – she’s anxious – that means she worries too much for no good reason, she takes everything seriously, and cries and complains too much about everything.

Think – are those things true? How could your child have been something else – and now this label makes them a one-sided person. Sometimes labels can make us feel so very small. Or feels like getting one means we are doomed. In medicine, a more humanizing way to talk about any illness is instead of saying: “Sally is a depressed 15 year-old girl” saying “Sally is a 15 year-old girl who has depression.” What’s the difference? The difference is that Sally is a multi-dimensional person and depression is only one part of the story.

Some people do not want to get help because they don’t want to own a label. Well, no one is a label. For the sake of figuring out how to help people, sometimes medical people will use labels so they can make a plan of what can help someone. But in reality, everyone’s illness is unique and different, has a different course, and could have been caused by different things. Using these labels is a simple way to talk to each other so we can communicate and try to help. Remembering each person is unique and not a label is always something to keep in mind.

Have you ever felt ashamed of your child being labeled as being sick? How did you cope with this?

Getting Outdoors + Photo Contest!


Many of you may have happy memories of hours spent playing outside as kids. As we grow into adolescents and adults, we have more responsibilities with school and work that often keep us indoors. However, spending time in nature can be a wonderful way to destress from these responsibilities and refresh your mind. Research shows that being outdoors increases vitality (physical and mental energy) leaving us feeling less stressed and more clear-headed.  In particular, individuals with depression often experience boosts in their mood after spending time in nature.

Looking to encourage your child to spend more time outdoors? Try a walk around your neighborhood or plan a family picnic. Many activities your child already enjoys can be done outside.

If you spend some time outdoors this weekend, be sure to snap a photo to submit to our Nature Photo Contest! Check out the infographic below for details.

What’s your favorite activity to do outside or in nature? Have you ever noticed how being outside or in nature has affected your well-being?

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Think Before you Post

Photo Credit: Ronsel via Compfight cc

Have you ever stopped to think about how what you post may affect your peers’ feelings? It is important to remember that although you are entitled to your own opinion, posting about it may be a bad idea. Hurting someone’s feelings with a status post happens more than you think. Here are a few ways to reflect on what you post so that this does not happen.

  1. Make sure there are no derogatory words or phrases in your posts
  2. Think to yourself “how might the post make other people feel”
  3. Do not shut down other peoples opinions or values even if you think they are wrong
  4. Is your post bullying or harassing someone or a group of people?

Let us know about a time you thought it was best to rephrase a post so that it did not hurt someone’s feelings!

Won’t you please, Won’t you please? Please won’t you update your profile?

Photo Credit: Spooky Momma via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Spooky Momma via Compfight cc

Hi WiseSOVA neighbors! We have added a new feature to our blog which is a nicer profile and list of members using the buddypress plug-in.

Here are some new things you can do! Continue reading Won’t you please, Won’t you please? Please won’t you update your profile?

How long to take medications

Before you read this post, remember that what is below might not apply to everyone – it is important for your child to always discuss medication decisions with your doctor. Every situation is unique.

If your child takes medications for depression or anxiety and they are feeling much better, you might want to know if they can stop their medications cold turkey.

Not a good idea, and let me explain why.

Photo Credit: Dogan Kokdemir via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dogan Kokdemir via Compfight cc

Stopping cold turkey can jolt your body and will likely result in withdrawal symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, headache, and muscle spasms. Continue reading How long to take medications