[Episode 104] If you joined me last week, we talked all about the importance of asking our kids permission prior to sharing their stories or their faces in social media or marketing.
The reason that that topic became relevant was because I knew I wanted to share today’s story with you, but only with my daughter’s full consent. The story is so sensitive and personal, but in my opinion, also not unique to what kids are dealing with today. I hope you never have to go through this experience, but if you or someone you know does, my hope is that it will be an encouragement.
For us, school starts at 8 o'clock, but we take our girls to school early because they like to eat breakfast at school. So you can imagine my surprise when we got a phone call from the school nurse at around 8 o'clock. She had some very heavy news. Another student had come in with a print out of a social media app my daughter uses which had several very negative posts about herself, culminating in one that said that she wanted to kill herself.
I felt overwhelmed with despair and confusion. I felt like I must have missed a sign from her somewhere. I had no idea what to do. Thankfully, the nurse offered me some options for ways to respond and support my daughter. One of these options was to administer a suicide assessment to my daughter to determine whether or not she was still a threat to herself. They assured me she was safe since she was at school, so we started there.
Instantly, my mind drifted to a conversation I had with Jen Taylor in episode #52, in which she recounted what it was like to walk through her own daughter’s challenges with mental health and her suicide threats. I realized at that moment that I was not alone and that I had a reference point for all of this.
My next step was to get my husband up to speed on the whole conversation I had had with the school nurse. We started brainstorming how we would approach the issue with our daughter when she got home. We thought of other resources we could use and reached out to our pediatrician too.
I want to be clear that I am not an expert, a counselor, or physician. The way we chose to address this situation with my daughter may not be the only way, but it was the way we felt most confident trusting that we know our daughter best. I just wanted to share because I had no idea my conversation with Jen Taylor would be so significant
When the girls got home, we decided to treat the afternoon and evening as business as usual. We made no other commitments and made a point to just stay home. We decided that we would put all the kids to bed and then take that time to have a conversation with her.
She shared with us that the posts she shared on social media were actually all prompted by a dare she was faced with at a slumber party. After we talked with her and after we got the results of the assessment the counselor administered to her, we determined that she was not in any immediate danger. Yet, it was obviously an ideal opportunity to talk about the significance of mental health in our lives.
We decided to talk about the potential for the mind to be sick, much like the body can be sick. We shared that some signs that your mind can be sick include when you feel sad, angry or even hopeless for long periods of time. We shared that it was….and bear with me, but that it was okay to have these thoughts. I didn’t want her to feel like she was weird or naughty for having these thoughts. I wanted her to know there are things we can do to help her in these moments so that she feels like herself again. She doesn’t have to stay stuck. We wanted to establish an open door policy if and when these intense emotions surface again so she knows that her best option is always communicating with the people who love her most.
Though this experience was probably one of the most difficult parenting moments of my life, we were able to feel confident about how this conversation ended. Our biggest goal was to ensure she knew we loved her and did not want her to be hurting. And that was accomplished.
One critical piece to this story was that a family in our school community (though we will likely never know who) had the courage to tell an adult when they saw my daughter's cry for help. Because of that family's courage, we were able to intervene before things escalated which resulted in an incredibly positive outcome. We are so grateful to that family for stepping up. Remind your kids to always speak up when they see bullying or dangerous behavior and treat everything like a “big deal”. It truly could save a life!
If you ever find someone you care about or yourself in a similar circumstance, please know that help is available. You can call or visit the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here. Someone will be ready to listen and able to connect you with local resources to find the hope and healing you need.
About The Host
Meg Brunson has been marketing to moms for nearly a decade. After leaving her corporate job at Facebook in 2017 to be a more present mom to her 4 daughters, she founded EIEIO Marketing; a digital marketing agency focused on Facebook Marketing for family-first businesses.
Through highly targeted, results-driven, Facebook Ads she's delivered results for her clients that include: doubling their lead volume, generating 62% more sales than the in-house team, attaining a 16x return on ad spend, and reducing the cost per lead by 99%!
After helping her daughter launch her first business, Storytime With Kiki, at the age of 10, Meg began hosting the FamilyPreneur Podcast: an interview-style podcast for parent entrepreneurs, raising entrepreneurial children.