cohort 2 responses : LUSENET : M.Ed. Cohort II : One Thread

This looks like the place to talk with each other about your public reactions to the 10-7 presentation. Anything personal that you don't want everyone in the cohort to read can go to me via e-mail, but I think we should also be reacting with each other over the content of the talk, so that I'm not the only one to benefit from your insights.

-- Anonymous, October 07, 1998


Have any of you actually ever asked a student if they were considering hurting themselves? As an English teacher, I frequently get student writing that sounds suicidal -- especially poetry, where everything is left vague and ambiguous and, with adolescents, is often gloomy and pessimistic. It is so hard for me to approach a student and say, "Is this poem about you? Are you feeling this bad?" Every single time I've worked up the nerve to do it, the student has laughed and denied feeling depressed. I'd be interested in hearing about others' experiences.

I liked Ben Wolfe's philosophy about being open with students rather than trying to cover up unpleasantness. Do your school administrators try to shield students from information that they already have, as I have experienced at my school? For instance, last year a former classmate of my students was severely brain damaged in a bicycle accident, and our administration told us not to discuss the specific circumstances of the accident with the students, by request of the parents. I had no idea how the accident occurred; my STUDENTS told ME! Answering questions about a crisis seems like questions about sex: if they're old enough to want to know, they should get an answer.

My 15-year-old son made a (fortunately) weak suicide attempt a year and a half ago. He showed many of the signs that the mother of Ross described last night. I know a lot about suicide and depression, and he was under the care of a psychiatrist, being treated for depression, and he still swallowed five dozen aspirins. I wondered if anyone else had similar experiences with their children they were willing to talk about. Every time he gets down in the dumps, now, I ask him if he's thinking about hurting himself. Every time he seems groggy when he wakes up, I ask, "Did you take a bunch of aspirin?" He's going to have to live with these questions for a long time, and I'm going to have to live with the fear.

Looking forward to seeing others' responses.


-- Anonymous, October 08, 1998

This is an area wher very few people have what they would consider a whole lot of experience. To deal with death is something that all of us are fully aware is coming, but most of us say (or feel) that we don't know what to do, what to say. Some of the hardest things that you will ever have to do is to approach a fellow human being and tell them 1.) Their loved one is dead or 2.) Know what to say to someone you care about when someone common to both of you dies. Uncomfortable ...yes, but that is only because of the way we treat the whole process of death. Most of us can find resolution in the death of someone who is "old" (Which begs the question 'What's old...') and yet we fail to deal successfully with our feelings when the person is young. The best, and yet hardest approach is to be honest in your expression of your feelings...Consider how YOU would want someone to deal with you if the situation is reversed?? To say you are sorry for the loss is a good start and you can gauge the rest of the exchange from the return message from the person, and everyone will react differently. The common thread is our humanness..."I can't imagine how this must feel to you, but... With kids we can guide them along to express fears and concerns. Of all the years I have worked in or around the funeral industry (and I don't agree with all of it!) kids present the most interesting dynamic when contrasted with older people. You have to see it to understand what I mean, but they BEHAVIOR is different. With suicide there will be a million questions, most of which will not have answers and its ok to say "I don't know...but what do you think" and share as much of the grief as you can, some more than others. We have an obligation (I think) to help kids navigate these waters and to keep the "net" out there so no more slip through. Regards, Dave

-- Anonymous, October 08, 1998

Dave-- I'd like to hear about cases where you had to notify families about suicides. Can you give examples of how you approach them, what you say, what a "typical" reaction is, if there is such a thing?

-- Anonymous, October 08, 1998

I felt that I needed to write some more... I had a recent experience with a child dying at my daycare... So this topic was very hard for me. I feel a great loss for this family, and yet I don't really know them... I feel like I should send something, or mabey I shouldn't... The whoel topic of death/depression/suicide is very hard. I thought a key point for me was actually saying to another person, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" That was hard to say out of context, so in context it will be worse!

-- Anonymous, October 08, 1998

The Death and Suicide forum was very heavy, but had alot of meaning for me. (I'm glad Ben included some Far Side jokes for comic relief) My husband died three years ago this Nov. 4. I'm now nearly a year older than he was when he died - this has really put me in touch with my own mortality. When Ben spoke of the "jello brigade", I could really relate. People are there for you when you are still numb, but later, when the numbness begins to wear off and the deep pain becomes a reality, I felt isolated. One person remembered the first anniversary of Nick's death, and I can't tell you how much that meant to me!

-- Anonymous, October 12, 1998

To all of you who have experienced the death of a loved one (My sister who was 22 died 21 years ago and I still miss her so deeply)--there are positives that come out of the experience--live each day to its fullest; don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today; empathy for other's experiences. Through people like Ben begin to talk about the death experience and maybe come to understand it just a little bit.

-- Anonymous, October 13, 1998

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