• Heather Vest

The Attention We Seek

Attention- seeking behavior is highly frowned upon in our society. What’s more is that people attempt to punish the attention- seeker by ignoring them thus causing their behavior to intensify in an effort to get the results they are looking for. I’ve seen this cycle played out with individuals who have attempted suicide. Take, for instance, the combat veteran that attends each VA appointment his doctor recommends. He incessantly expresses his feelings of depression and intrusive thoughts to each medical professional. At home, he attempts to suppress as the feelings and cognitions because his wife has reached her limit in “dealing with him” and trying to understand his responses to trauma. Once the veteran realizes he will not likely receive the help he needs and gains feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, he decides to take his own life.

I decided to post this because there is an increasing number of children committing suicide. Upon investigation, the close friends and loved ones tell authorities “he was bullied in school” or “the school never did anything to help her”. Then, when you click on the comments under the article, there are an array of people replying about the inaction of the school and suggesting how teachers and counselors could have better helped the child. This notion is built on the fallacy that the school has enough staff to be present with each individual for their entire day. Also, this is assuming the child would even tell the truth about the treatment they are enduring. I work with kids on a daily basis and am fully aware that they are likely to simply endure the treatment rather than “rat out” or “tell on” the offending child. Why? Across the board, they say “telling will only make it worse” to which I have seen in my own experience with my child.

So, what are we to do, you ask? You open a line of communication with your child and let them know that their feelings, thoughts, and concerns will never be minimized. Let them know that you will not overreact and that you will respect their wishes in how the situation will be handled until you see a potential danger to their mental or physical being. You talk about the various options and dispel any faulty thoughts that could lead to the child feeling helpless or hopeless. You explain different ways of approaching problem individuals. If you realize there will be no resolve and that your child’s suffering will likely persist, you move out of your comfort zone and grasp that there are various options to gain an education. We have alternative schools, onsite home schooling, online homeschooling, and hybrid programs. Being uninformed may have you believing you cannot take your child out of their current environment, but please research the options…. they really are numerous. Your child’s frontal lobe is not fully developed so this one thing might just feel like the end of the world to them…. while you, as a mature adult, realizes it will truly pass. Explain the finality of death and suicide. This is only a start. Keep the discussion going and continuously check in with them.

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