Chandler Education Foundation talks teen suicide prevention, upcoming parent session

The Chandler Education Foundation is highlighting suicide prevention month by hosting various special educational events for teens and parents.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:39 AM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Chandler Education Foundation is highlighting suicide prevention month by hosting various special educational events for teens and parents.

In the past 10 to 13 years, across the U.S., self-harm, anxiety, and depression have spiked. Child Mental Health Advocate with the foundation Katey McPherson talked with Good Morning Arizona anchor Tess Rafols to talk about the various programs that will be held throughout this month--including a documentary on the life of one teenager who attempted suicide and survived.

The documentary is called “My Ascension,” discusses the young woman’s life, her suicide attempt, and what she is doing now to help others who are struggling like she did. “She’s what we call a lived survivor. Most people that attempt don’t get to tell their story after,” McPherson said. “What I’ve learned from her is...silence keeps no one safe.”

Many parents believe that it couldn’t be their kid, but in Chandler alone in the past few months, there’s been five teenagers who have died by suicide. “We’re missing that social media is a huge comparison, and that they’re comparing themselves,” McPherson said. “Really dialing in as parents in that the world has changed, and that they now have access to so much information.”

McPherson said that she believes it’s the parents that are afraid to have the conversation, not the children struggling. She said that Arizona parents who would like to learn more are invited to a Parent University session on Wednesday, Sept. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Majestic Neighborhood Cinema Grill Chandler. You can get your tickets here. There will be experts, local advocates, and individuals at the ready to provide parents with resources.

Michael Klinkner, a licensed social worker, also spoke to Rafols Tuesday morning and talked about why having these hard conversations can be so difficult for parents and teenagers. “For kids as young as 8, they’ll get overwhelmed, and they’ll have feelings of being out of control, rejection, or that they’re disappointing someone,” Klinkner said. “High school kids will be about what school they’re going to get into... with all that pressure, they decide that dying by suicide is what will relieve the pain.”

He suggests that parents always ask questions and take their kids’ discussions of suicide and their struggles seriously. “Ask the kid what kind of support they need, how often are they thinking about things like that, how overwhelmed do they feel, and how close have they gotten,” Klinkner said. “Are they saying things like, ‘Oh, you don’t need to deal with me for a whole lot longer’.”

Klinkner said that oftentimes, comments can fall through the cracks. He said that for some teens, break-ups or increases or decreases in sleep or eating, or socially withdrawn could all be signs that your teenager is contemplating dying by suicide.

The Suicide Lifeline Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and can also be reached at 988. To learn more about the foundation click here.