Past the Tipping Point: Teaching parents to help prevent teen suicide

Past the Tipping Point: Teaching parents to help prevent teen suicide
Parents gather in Battle Ground to learn techniques to help students contemplating suicide.

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. – Schools around Oregon and Southwest Washington are making efforts to curb bullying on their campuses and prevent suicides.

Friday in Salem, teachers will participate in a training to stop bullying; in Gresham on Thursday, students participated in an assembly called “Stand for Respect.”

Bullying and suicide are especially emotional topics in the town of Battle Ground where seven teenagers have committed suicide at least in part because of bullying.

On Thursday evening community members gathered to learn about identifying signs of problems with troubled students. The meeting was about education and raising awareness not just for parents, but for everyone in the community who interacts with kids.

Topics included how to connect with kids who might be depressed and what questions to ask.

Inside the school library where students usually study, this night it was the parents taking notes.

As one parent noted, this is the reality of parenting in 2013.

“My daughter said to me her biggest thing is ‘you don’t get it,’” said Kim Peterson. “Well, I get it. I remember being in high school, but I don’t get it from her perspective.”

Keeping open lines of communication and asking questions are two of the most important things parents need to do with their kids.

“If there’s a behavior you notice new and lasts more than two weeks you should get professional help,” said suicide prevention expert Mary Jadwisiak. “Asking that question directly and clearly: ‘are you so sad suicide might be an option?’”

Jadwisiak class also said it’s important to be very clear with teenagers that suicide is an action that can never been undone.

KATU reporters Meghan Kalkstein and Valerie Hurst contributed to this report