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Where's my happy kid gone :-(

Where's my happy kid gone :-(

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Nicole

Where's my happy kid gone :-(

Hey guys, 

Brand new to this site but looking for some advice. My 13 year old boy is going through a really tough patch at the moment. I'm going to try keep this somewhat brief .. 

I have recently found a disturbing picture he drew of a hanging noose and the words "trapped in hell, end it all" .. prior to this I genuinely had NO idea he was so troubled. I noticed some changes in his behaviour but had put it down to his age .. he has a big group of friends, he is getting his best ever grades at school ..

After finding the picture I spoke to him saying I had noticed he was seeming a little blue and it opened up some discussions between us .. he admitted that his recent diagnosis of alopecia had him worried about the future, aside from that he really didn't give me much more insight. I asked him if he would attend a local mental health place for teens with me, he declined. I asked him if he had ever had suicidal thoughts and he said no. In hindsight I wish I had made an appt and just taken him without fully revealing what we were doing, I know thats not ideal but he is the kind of kid that really needs a push sometimes .. 

The next week he seemed to have perked up, he spent more time with us doing family stuff which he would normally exclude himself from, we played board games each night, we talked more .. I genuinely thought he was 'coming good' and just needed to connect with us more .. 

Yesterday I noticed his iPad under his bed, I often have a quick look through his devices to try get inklings on whats going on (again, not ideal, I know!).. I looked through his google history and he has watched 2 youtube clips on how to tie a hanging noose .. these were very recent watches, from after the week where I thought he had perked up. 

I don't want to talk directly to him about what I have found obviously. He got home from school yesterday and said he had hurt his toe and couldn't attend karate. I needed to take the others in and was super nervous about leaving him at home. I just don't know what to do. 

Im currently looking for help online and came across this page, I'm going to contact a few local places .. I feel sick to my stomach with worry. When he gets home tonight I plan to talk to him again and show him the resources on this page .. what else can I do? Any suggestions? 

Thanks in advance, a stressed mumma!


Parent/Carer Community Champion
PapaBill

Re: Where's my happy kid gone :-(

Hi @Nicole 

 

Being a parent of a teen is tough, almost as tough as being a teen.

I read your post and thought it is really positive that you are trying to talk to your son about his behaviour and your concerns.  That is very important, even if you get rebuffed just making the effort shows your son you love and care for their well being.

 

Body image issues are ripe in today's teen world and alopecia certainly could trigger issues for your son.

Maybe you could pursue his concerns on this more?  If he is unwilling to go to councillor or talk with you is there a trusted male role model he would be able to reach out to?   I know it isn't very Politically Correct to suggest a male role model but IMHO it might be beneficial in this case.

 

It would be quite normal for anyone to have up and downs in their moods.  Some days or weeks are going to be good and some are going to be bad.  The other thing is mental health is a long term issue to deal with.

 

It sounds like there has been some video watching and some doodling but no actual self harm?

If so that is a good thing!

 

I would suggest you keep talking with your son and making your concerns known.  It is surprising how children can respond to a little love, respect and genuinely seeking to understand what is going on in their lives.  Again - talking with them shows you care and love for them. 

 

I would also suggest you encourage activities like the karate where he can build his self confidence and interact positively with the world.  If you know his friends and they are "positive"  influences encourage that interactions.

 

It is a hard time but it sounds like you are on the right track.  Let us know how it goes.

 

 

Parent/Carer Community Champion
gina-Ro

Re: Where's my happy kid gone :-(

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 Hi there @Nicole , welcome to the Parents RO forum - really glad you found us here.

 

My heart goes out to you - I can only imagine how distressing it must have been to find that drawing, and see the videos your son was watching relating to suicide methods. 

It is concerning that he has looked those things up. 

You absolutely did the right thing in addressing it with him directly, and asking him if he had thoughts of suicide. Even if you feel he wasn't honest in his response to you, he now knows that you are a safe person for him to speak to. Its great he able to open up to you about feeling down about his recent diagnosis. Health diagnosis can really hit young people hard, and many experience a process of grief after hearing news such as that.

Do you think he would open up to someone else about his feelings? Another family member - sibling, teacher , school counsellor perhaps? I think it's important that he gets an opportunity to explore what's going on for him with a support person. If he has any close friends, it could be a good idea to encourage him to spend more time with them at the moment too. 

 

You know your son best, and if you think he would respond well to a nudge in the right direction, perhaps thats what's needed?

 

If you are wanting someone to talk to about this a bit more  - you can call the Parent Line for free  professional support 8am - 10pm on 1300 30 1300. They should be able to talk it through with you, offer you some support, and some communication strategies. 

We also have some info over here on how to talk about suicide and on suicide prevention strategies for parents of teens. 

 

If you have any reason to think he is at immediate risk of harm, you may need to put more things in place for his safety. 
Please let us know how you are, and how your son is. We're here to chat- many other parents on this forum have been through very similar things and have gotten through the other side. You are not alone!

Heart

Parent/Carer Community Champion
JAKGR8

Re: Where's my happy kid gone :-(

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Hi @Nicole I can see how this change in behaviour is pulling on your heart strings. It can feel like your hands are tied. 

 

I agree with @PapaBill, not many parents would be able to talk to their sons about self harm or suicide so well done. It can bring their thoughts into the light and make them aware that someone is paying attention, even when it doesn't feel like it.

 

I also agree that alopecia could certainly be a blow to his self esteem. Image is everything to these kids - even when we don't think so. How could we make it cool, I wonder. Often boys will listen to a trusted teacher or coach, you mentioned a martial arts activity. Maybe you can set them up to have an 'impromptu' talk. Maybe a yoga or meditation teacher can help and also be a step to going to a counsellor. The Reachout apps are great as well.

 

Whilst thinking about suicide is relatively common, very few young people will actually attempt to take their own lives. There is a difference between having the thought and acting on it. However even having suicidal thoughts clearly shows someone is unhappy and needs help and support. It can be  normal for boys to have thoughts about death and violence at this age and talk about it amongst themselves. It might even help to have you, or a 'father' figure, reflect on the thoughts they had at that age with him. This can help show how they aren't that different or weird. It is amazing how this can open up a conversation. Our eldest came home concerned about the number of boys in his school who were hospitalized due to mental health issues and when I listened, reflected on how scary it was, I also offered my experience with friends going through this. I didn't offer much until he was receptive but it became evident he appreciated that  It became a long chat. (I might add that our best chats happen when we are doing something together like cooking dinner).

 

However if your son has risk factors you will want to monitor more closely.

Some risk factors that may contribute to a child's risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior include:

  • A family history of suicide, depression, or other mental illness
  • Loss of a close family member, friend, or classmate by suicide or other sudden death
  • Threats or violence from peers
  • Previous history of depression or other mental health illness
  • Previous suicide attempts

 

You can block concerning websites through your modem if you are really worried about what he is watching. Or even better, report them for higher censorship ratings. 

 

@PapaBill said

I would suggest you keep talking with your son and making your concerns known.  It is surprising how children can respond to a little love, respect and genuinely seeking to understand what is going on in their lives.  Again - talking with them shows you care and love for them. 

 

Debriefing each day can be very helpful. I would add that it doesn't have to be at then end of the day. Sometimes they talk more after sleeping on it. It also helps if you educate them on how the teen brain works so they can explain why they feel certain ways. 

 

Professor Tony Atwood (Aspergers Expert) recommends exercise, especially yoga, to all boys. For your son this is martial arts but maybe he could benefit from a teen sport. If not a teen sport then maybe there is a group like Scouts or volunteering he could join. There is a great article about encouraging teens to contribute to help them feel worthwhile, loved, useful. 

 

Sending big hugs and positive thoughts your way. 

JA

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