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Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

By Mary Helen Berg, Your Teen Magazine

When Clark Flatt’s 16-year-old son killed himself with a .38 caliber pistol nearly two decades ago, no one in his community, school, or church was talking about suicide.

“We talked about drugs; we talked about bullying. No one ever mentioned teen suicide as a threat to my son,“ recalls Flatt, who today is president of the non-profit Jason Foundation, a suicide education and prevention organization. “If I had gone through and learned about the warning signs, I might not have thought ‘suicide,’ but I would have said, ‘I need to get some professional help for him.’”

Parents often think suicide can’t happen in their family and avoid talking about it. But teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Only accidents, including car crashes and overdoses, kill more people ages 10 to 24.

“Suicide doesn’t just happen to other people,” Flatt says. “It happens to the football captain, the head of the chess team, and the student body government leader.”

Preventing Teen Suicide

Talk about Suicide

It’s important to be direct when talking about teen suicide. If you have concerns, ask your teen outright if she ever thinks about hurting herself. Don’t worry that you’re “putting ideas in their heads,” advises Dr. David Miller, president of the Association of American Suicidology.

“If an adolescent is already suicidal, talking about it, your words, are not going to make them more suicidal than they already are,” Miller says. “If they are not currently suicidal, then talking about it won’t magically make them so.”

Risk Factors for Suicide

Although we sometimes think of teens as impulsive risk-takers, this trait doesn’t necessarily contribute to more teen suicide attempts, according to Miller.

“In the research I’ve seen, people who are suicidal have often thought about this a great deal,” he notes.

Risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide and mental health disorders, substance abuse, illness, feelings of isolation, and easy access to guns, medications, or other lethal means, according to the CDC.

A “trigger event” such as bullying, a bad grade, or a breakup can also prompt a vulnerable teen to attempt suicide, explains Flatt, who formed the Jason Foundation in his son’s memory. The Tennessee-based organization now has 92 affiliates across the country, serving an estimated four million people.

Know the Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Most adolescents who attempt suicide—four out of five, according to the Jason Foundation—give some type of warning, including:

  • Suicidal ideation or preoccupation with suicide, ranging from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans
  • Statements such as, “I wish I were dead,” or, “No one would miss me if I were gone”
  • Persistent feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Behavior that is out of character, such as dramatic changes in grades, hygiene, or mood
  • Giving away prized possessions

Have a Plan to Prevent Teen Suicide

Parents know they should take their kids to the emergency room if they have appendicitis, but they often don’t know what to do if their child is depressed. Here’s what experts recommend:

1. Research mental health resources. “Don’t wait until the critical point,” Flatt warns. “If you wait until there’s actually suicidal ideation, you’ve really reached a very dangerous edge.”

2. Maintain an open dialogue with your teen.

3. If your teen seems depressed, don’t ignore it or assume it’s typical teen moodiness.

4. Store guns, prescription medications, and alcohol in safe locations.

5. Encourage your teen to seek adult help if they notice a friend exhibiting suicidal behaviors. “This is not about being a snitch. This is about helping someone and potentially saving someone’s life,” stresses Miller.

Mary Helen Berg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Scary Mommy, and many other publications.

Reprinted with permission by Your Teen Magazine.

Are you struggling with a teen and have exhausted your local resources? Are you concerned that they may be at-risk and considering residential therapy? Contact us today. Since 2001 we’ve been educating parents on the teen help industry and visiting many schools and programs throughout our country.

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Are You Considering Residential Therapy?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 27, 2018  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens, Uncategorized

What is the best program for teen?

Are you at your wit’s end? Do you have a good teen making bad choice? Is it time for residential therapy?

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When Safety Trumps Privacy: Snoop

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 13, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

teens 4Are you concerned your teenager’s is hiding something from you?

Are they becoming withdrawn? Secretive? Changing friends? Underachieving in school? Possibly experimenting with drugs and alcohol?

Have you noticed a change in their behavior, but they are telling you it’s nothing or don’t worry about it.

Don’t be a parent in denial. Don’t be a parent that is afraid to break a bond of trust in exchange for finding out that there is something you could have helped with.

Recently ABC 20/20 interviewed Sue Klebold, mother of the infamous Dylan Klebold that shot 13 people at Columbine in 1999.

She believed it was time to give Dylan is privacy.

A time she regrets more than anything.

I’m not saying you are raising killers, this is an extreme.  However the fact is, teens today are struggling with not only their offline lives — but the pressure of keeping up with the social life of online activity. How many people are LIKE-ng them!

Especially if your child is acting suspiciously and refusing to communicate with you, it’s a parent’s responsibility to reach out and get help from outside sources.

Sometimes the signs are subtle, sometimes they are in plain sight — but many times it can be the parent that is refusing to admit there is a problem.  They want to brush it off to adolescence – or they will grow out of it.

Maybe they will – or maybe it is teen-hood, but maybe it isn’t.

If you feel you have exhausted your local resources and believe you want to find out more about residential treatment, contact us for more information.

 

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Teens and Drug Use: Beyond Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 27, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens, Uncategorized

Ranking the riskiest drugs in the United States, beyond addiction.

It’s time to rethink your ideas about the most dangerous drugs. Many are in our own homes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be abusing them, however when you have a teenager desperate to get high, you must consider all these options.

Don’t be a parent in denial — be an educated parent. You will have a safer and healthier family.

31 Most Harmful Drugs

 

All Psychology Schools

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Teens and Addiction: Reality Check for Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 06, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

SadTeenParenting teens can be challenging. No matter how many times we talk about just saying no to drugs, there will be a teenager that will cave to peer pressure.

Parents need to stop being in denial and start educating their kids about the dangers of addiction which can follow drug abuse. Stop saying, “not my kid!” Yes, it could be your kid!

If you haven’t taken the time to watch, Heroin in the Heartland, make the time. These are good kids that suddenly find themselves in the throws of addiction.

Parent denial only delays treatment.

3 Reality Checks for Parents:

  1. Myth: We try to keep our home teen-friendly because if our teen(s) hang out here – even if they’re drinking – we know they’re safe. Reality Check: There is nothing wrong with making your teen and his/her friends comfortable in your home. But teenage drinking is never safe even when they are being “supervised.” Not only is alcohol bad for their health and development but it also impairs their judgment. The media has reported on scenarios where teens in these situations have wandered off and died in a preventable accident, driven drunk and hurt themselves or others and committed a violent act against a peer.
  2. Myth: It’s better for my child if he/she considers me a best friend.  Reality Check: Part of your job as a parent is to set and enforce rules. Trying to be their best friend is only confusing and gives mixed messages.
  3. Myth: My husband and I have different parenting styles. What’s the big deal?  Reality Check: It’s critical for all caregivers to be on the same page whether they are married, divorced, nannies, grandparents, etc. Consistency is key to raising a healthy and responsible teen who understands and respects boundaries.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

If you fear your child is heading down a dark path and have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for more information on quality residential therapy.

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How Good Teens Can Get Hooked On Heroin

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 02, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

HeronAbuse“Not my child.”

“He was only smoking weed.”

“It started with his wisdom teeth being removed and pain meds.”

“It was a sports injury and the pain meds helped.”

“It was only pot.”

“It’s not my teen.”

If you missed Heroin in the Heartland on 60 Minutes, take fifteen minutes to watch it.

These are not your typical stereotype junkies many parents imagine an addict to be, these could be your child. These are good kids making some very risky and deadly decisions.

I have been speaking to parents since 2001 and two of the biggest misconceptions that parents have is exactly what this segment shared:

  1. It’s not my teen/child.
  2. It’s only weed.

Hannah Morris/CBS News

Hannah Morris/CBS News

Hannah Morris on 60 Minutes said the following, while she was 15 years-old:

“It started with weed and it was fun, and I got to good weed . Went to– oh my gosh, I went to pills, and it was still fun. You know, Percocet, Xanax, Vicodin, all that kinda stuff. And then yeah, heroin. I started smoking it at first.”

Both of Hannah’s parents are professionals and live in an upper middle-class area.  Hannah has been clean for a year and now attending college.

Don’t be a parent in denial.

Okay, marijuana is legal now, but get educated on it. It still has risk for youth and their brain cells – and more importantly when teens are buying it from dealers, it could be potentially laced with heroin. ABC 20/20 shared a segment on this a few years back – The New Faces of Heroin Users.

It’s basic economic’s, the dealers are going where the money is. – 60 Minutes

Parents need to learn more about heroin. They need to stop believing that it won’t or can’t happen to them. Heroin is deadly. Start talking about it – and don’t think of it as a stigma, but rather being proactive.  Start chatting about the 60 Minute segment. How do you feel about all the pain meds or the fact some parents flippantly say – it’s only marijuana?  This is not your parent’s weed.  This is your teenager’s life.

Parents that learned firsthand that heroin is risky and deadly/CBS News

Parents that learned firsthand that heroin is risky and deadly/CBS News

 

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Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 21, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

DistraughtFamilyYou are struggling with the fact you are reaching your wit’s end with your out-of-control teenager?

In most cases, this is the first time you have experienced this and you are clueless about what your options are.  You have exhausted your local resources, such as counseling, outpatient and some even tried sending their loved one to a relatives home.

Now what?

Deciding on residential therapy is a major decision not to be taken lightly.  Like many big businesses out there, it is a business.  As a parent that was once in your shoes, I know what it is like – I had exhausted every local avenue (including the relative), only to be duped by a residential program.

What that did for me is to empower me to help others gain from my knowledge and learn from my experiences.  Let’s be real – my one horrific ordeal doesn’t mean all schools and programs are bad – quite the contrary, in our research, we found that most are beneficial.

mom laptopIt’s about “you” – the parent, doing your due diligence and not making a decision while you are in a panic.  Not allowing these sales reps to convince you of something your gut is telling you is not so.

Many parents will get online and start searching all sort of terms for troubled teens.  Keep in mind, only those schools and programs (marketing arms) with deep pockets can afford those sponsored listings, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best for your teen.  In hindsight, the organization that duped me literally had the first spots all over the Internet – they were pros on marketing. Anyone can build a site and market themselves, it’s your research that is imperative – offline.  

  • Talk to local sheriff department in the town that the program is located in.  Ask how many times they are called out there, do they have runaways – big question – “would they send their child there.”
  • Call the Department of Social Services/Department of Children and Families – ask if there has ever been complaints filed (chanced are they can’t tell you the details, but at least let you know if there were complaints), are they up-to-date with their licences, how are they licensed?  As a childcare center, foster-care home, or as a therapeutic boarding school.  (Yes, things you need to know).
  • If you are visiting the school/program, stop in local restaurants, talk the people (waitress, locals) ask about the school, their opinions.  It’s amazing what locals will say.

I think you are getting the idea.  The Internet is very valuable, but in reality it can be hard to determine cyber-fact from cyber-fiction, there comes a time to take it offline – for the sake of your child.

More take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

  • Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
  • Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
  • Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

  • Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child).  I also caution you to just fill out forms that don’t offer you confidentiality.  These are marketing arms that simply send your information to a variety of programs.
  • Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program). There are some reputable Wilderness programs, however it is our opinion it is an extra step and money that parents should understand before taking this leap.
  • Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references).

Are you searching for a Therapeutic Boarding School, Residential Treatment Center or Teen Help Program?  Contact us for more information.

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Teen Boot Camps and Scared Straight Programs

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 13, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Scared Straight: Would it work with your teen?

Scared Straight: Would it work with your teen?

Years ago parents would threaten to send their children, especially defiant and belligerent teens to military school or boot camp.  Then some sheriff’s departments developed Scared Straight programs through through their  jails.

Inmates would speak to the youth about their experiences, both inside and on the outside, hopefully giving them enough of a jolt to realize they don’t want to be in their shoes.

If you are interested in scared straight programs, sometimes they can be effective with certain teenagers.  Check with your local sheriff’s department to see if they offer them.

Going back to military schools, parents are making false threats since they will be quick to learn that these type of boarding schools are typically a privilege and honor to attend.

Your child will need a good GPA to be accepted as well as be willing to attend.  Not to mention, if they are struggling with any type of experimentation of substance use, military campuses are not immune to students bringing in drugs or alcohol.  They will be reprimanded, and like a traditional school – will be expelled within their school policy.  However, you will forfeit your tuition with that too.  Keep in mind, military school tuition usually starts at about $25,000 a school year and up.

Boot camps are what parents think about initially.  They are very difficult to locate at this point.  With a lot of negative press as well as results, most have been closed and no longer in operation.

If you break it down, boot camps were usually a weekend where teens were literally placed in a military-style environment with rigorous physical exercise in an effort to break your child down.  It is an in-your-face type of discipline that isn’t resolving any of their emotional issues that is causing their negative behavior at home or school.

Many of these teens are already broken – emotionally.  They are usually depressed and struggle with low self-esteem, placing them in an environment that only degrades them will likely build more anger and resentment – especially towards the people that put them there – the parents.  

We challenge parents to switch places.  If you are going through a rough time in your life, whether it be a divorce or a friend that is not treating you well, how would you feel if no one was speaking with you and you had people screaming at you constantly and degrading you as you are struggling just to get by?

TeenArtTherapy

Teens & art therapy.

Residential therapy, which includes emotional growth programs helps your teen work through their issues.  Having conversations with counselors, peers and also participating in activities that can help build their confidence to make better choices is what can help start the recovery process.

Residential treatment centers is about building your child back up again, not breaking them down.

Before you think your child needs a good punishment, think about what it will really achieve?  Being a teenager today is not easy.  Being a parent is even more of a struggle – we all have to do our best to make it work and give our kids the best future.

Do you have questions or want to learn more about quality residential therapy?  Contact us today.

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