“Kids don’t really think about suicide, do they?” or “Kids just want attention, they can’t really want to die.” Even with all the media coverage of children’s mental health, I'm still asked questions like these.
Unfortunately, yes, some kids do think about suicide. And, yes, some children do want attention and want to feel valued and want to be helped… but most of all, they want to quit hurting.
Today, I received an email from one of our nursing staff notifying the treatment team that a suicide note had been found in one of our younger children’s rooms. The note was written as if she wasn’t alive anymore and that she had ended her life because she was a failure, always let everyone down, was always in pain, and wasn’t a good friend. She is 11 years old.
Her parents love her very much. They adopted her as an infant, knowing she had experienced poly-substance exposure in utero and was born addicted specifically to methamphetamine. She is a very pretty little girl. Very, very active. Quick to smile. Also prone to outbursts, aggression, self-harm, anger, and depression. She tries to explain that “my brain just doesn’t feel right.” She’s right. Those chemicals that entered her tiny system changed the functioning of her brain and her emotions. Life is hard for her.
The Ranch staff talked to her about the note. They did not ignore how she felt. They listened. They told her they were sorry she felt such pain. They told her they were here for her, to keep her safe, and to help her learn how to keep herself safe. They gave her attention, kindness, and hope.
The nurse reported that she was now having a good day. She was in a safe place with no way to act on those feelings, and the feelings had passed. She had seen her therapist, engaged in summer programming, did some make-up school work, and asked, “What’s for dinner?”
Yes, some kids do think about suicide when the weight they are carrying seems too heavy. Your prayers and your support help Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch wrap each precious child in the care they need to find and become their best selves.
God bless you for your compassion.
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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