September, 2015
Issue No. 3
Burlington Township Schools
Community Resource
In This Issue
If you need help or if you know someone who needs help, use these resources.

Special Resource Newsletters

I hope that these special resource newsletters have been a resource that you are able to use. This edition will focus on attempting to help everyone understand that bigger picture.  I have heard many people ask, why is this happening to us? What is going on in our schools?  What is happening in our community?  The reality is that suicide is a bigger issue across the country.  The statistics are alarming. It is something that is not prevalent in the news media.  It is important that parents arm themselves with as much information as possible to help their children.  It is also very important to be present and engage with your child.  As they get older, some children may begin to distance themselves and begin to show their independence.  It's more crucial than ever to let your children know that you are there for them.  There is nothing wrong with asking questions, checking their cell phones, or looking at social media to see what their internet activities include.  You'd be amazed at the insight you will gain into your child's life and their circle of friends.

The resources in this newsletter have been provided to us by The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.  We are fortunate to be able to partner with this organization to support our families.  This is the organization that will be presenting at the Tuesday night program.

I am encouraging parents to come out to this program. Several parents have asked whether it is appropriate to bring their children (12 and older).  As a parent you know the maturity level of your child.  We all know that any child with a cell phone has unlimited uncensored information at their finger tips. This may be an opportunity for you to share a common experience with your child  that will later assist in future conversations.  Parents use your judgement based on your child.  We will offer child care for those who need it.

Immediately following the program, we will have counselors from T.L.C. and members of our faith based community available to talk with you privately.

Remember you are not alone! It takes a village to raise a child.  

I am Worried and I Don't Know Where to Turn.

     There is no need to be embarrassed about asking questions or reaching out for help.  It is okay to be concerned about your child and it is your job as a parent to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get them the support they need.  As a parent, you have instincts about your child, and if your instinct tells you that something is wrong and this is not "just a phase" then you should listen to yourself.
     Sometimes our embarrassment comes from not knowing where to turn.  The mental health system can be confusing for people who are reaching out to get help and the goal of this article is to assist you in better knowing what resources are available and then finding out how to access them.
     The first thing you need to do is get some clarity about what is worrying you. One of the best ways to try to pinpoint the specific behaviors or feelings that have you concerned is to think about the ways in which these behaviors  are 'changes' from the way your child normally acts. Are things different just at home or also at school? How about with friends? Siblings? Listing examples of the behaviors that have fueled your concerns is a concrete and objective place to start.
Click here to read the complete article.
-Provided by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
I Don't Know What To Do! Please Help!

     One of the more difficult challenges of parenting is realizing that you don't always know what your children are thinking and feeling. You may be aware that suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents but you can't imagine your child might become one of those statistics. When do the normal ups and downs of adolescence become something to worry about? How can you know if suicide is a risk for your family? And if you are worried about it, what can you do?
     If you find yourself asking some of these questions, you're not alone. Although youth suicide is a relatively rare phenomenon, thoughts of suicide are not. One national study, for example, found that almost 20% of high school students admitted to thinking about suicide.
     Many parents may feel at a loss. Feelings can be difficult subjects to discuss under the best of circumstances, so how in the world do you ask about feelings related to suicide?
The first step is to learn about the factors that can put a teen at risk for suicide. There are lots of sites that list risk factors; spend some time reading them. The more you know, the better you'll be prepared for understanding what can put your child at risk.
-Provided by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Parent Awareness
Talking to Your Kids About Suicide
Every parent would like to believe that suicide is not relevant to them or their family or friends. Unfortunately, it's all too relevant for all of us. It's the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents and the 2nd for college aged students. Even more disturbing are national surveys that tell us that 17% of high school students admit to thinking about suicide and almost 8% acknowledge actually making an attempt. The unfortunate truth is that suicide can happen to ANY kid in ANY family at ANY time!

So how do you deal with this reality? Once you acknowledge that suicide is as much risk for your child as not wearing a seat belt while driving, or using alcohol or drugs, or engaging in risky sexual behavior, you've taken the first step in prevention. You talk to your children about these other behaviors which can put them at personal risk, and suicide is no different. It's something you CAN and SHOULD talk about with your children!

Contrary to myth, talking about suicide CANNOT plant the idea in someone's head! It actually can open up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret. And secrets that are exposed to the rational light of day often become less powerful and scary. You also give your child permission to bring up the subject again in the future.

If it isn't prompted by something your kid is saying or doing that worries you.  Approach this topic in the same way as other subjects that are important to you, but may or may not be important to your child:
  • Timing is everything! Pick a time when you have the best chance of getting your child's attention. Sometimes a car ride, for example, assures you of a captive, attentive audience. Or a suicide that has received media attention can provide the perfect opportunity to bring up the topic.
  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time and rehearse a script if necessary It always helps to have a reference point: ("I was reading in the paper that youth suicide has been increasing..." or "I saw that your school is having a program for teachers on suicide prevention.")
  • If it this is a hard subject for you to talk about, admit it! ("You know, I never thought this was something I'd be talking with you about, but I think it's really important"). By acknowledging your discomfort, you give your child permission to acknowledge his/her discomfort too.
  • Ask for your child's response. Be direct! ("What do you think about suicide?"; "Is it something that any of your friends talk about?", "Have you ever thought about it? What about your friends?")
  • Listen to what your child has to say. You've asked the questions, so simply consider your child's answers. If you hear something that worries you, be honest about that too. "What you're telling me has really gotten my attention and I need to think about it some more. Let's talk about this again, okay?"
  • Don't overreact or under react.  Overreaction will close off any future communication on the subject. Under reacting, especially in relation to suicide, is often just a way to make ourselves feel better. ANY thoughts or talk of suicide ("I felt that way a while ago but don't any more") should ALWAYS be revisited. Remember that suicide is an attempt to solve a problem that seems impossible to solve in any other way. Ask about the problem that created the suicidal thoughts. This can make it easier to bring up again in the future ("I wanted to ask you again about the situation you were telling me about...")
Here are some possible warning signs that can be organized around the word "FACTS":
FEELINGS that, again, seem different from the past, like hopelessness; fear of losing control; helplessness; worthlessness; feeling anxious, worried or angry often
ACTIONS that are different from the way your child acted in the past, especially things like talking about death or suicide, taking dangerous risks, withdrawing from activities or sports or using alcohol or drugs
CHANGES in personality, behavior, sleeping patterns, eating habits; loss of interest in friends or activities or sudden improvement after a period of being down or withdrawn
THREATS that convey a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, or preoccupation with death ("Life doesn't seem worth it sometimes"; "I wish I were dead"; "Heaven's got to be better than this"); plans like giving away favorite things, studying ways to die, obtaining a weapon or stash of pills; suicide attempts like overdosing or cutting
SITUATIONS that can serve as "trigger points" for suicidal behaviors. These include things like loss or death; humiliations, rejections, or failures, getting into trouble at home, in school or with the law; a break-up; or impending changes for which your child feels scared or unprepared
If you notice any of these things in kids who have always been impulsive, made previous suicide attempts or threats or seem vulnerable in any way, you really should get consultation from a mental health professional.

-Provided by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Raising Children During Challenging Times
October 6, 2015
Burlington Township School District's Family Learning Series is teaming up with our community partners and The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide to provide a special evening for parents.  This night is too important to ignore.  We will provide babysitting services to our families as well for this night.  Please mark your calendars:

October 6, 2015
 6:30 P.M.
Performing Arts Center

We are committed to working together as a community to prevent suicide.  Come out and hear Maureen Underwood a nationally recognized expert on youth suicide prevention, with focus on schools and best-practice programs that enhance overall student outcomes.
Knowledge is power! Come out and learn all that you can so we can battle against suicide.  It has happened too many times in our community.  It's time for us to come together to address the issue. 
It takes a village.  Don't miss this!

Counselors will be available immediately following the program, along with members of our faith based organizations to provide support.
Seth Franco 
October 12, 2015
We are pleased to announce that Seth Franco, one of today's premier youth speakers , and former Harlem Globetrotter, will be coming to Burlington Township High School and Middle School in October.  Seth will be bringing a message of hope, and urging students to bounce back and live big.  

Traumatic Loss Coalition

TLC is one of our partners and they asked that we share the following resources with our entire community.  Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death overall in New Jersey.  It is the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 in our state.  On average, one person dies by suicide every 12 hours in New Jersey.  An estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide by a friend, family member, or loved one.

Please join the Traumatic Loss Coalition in supporting suicide prevention.  Together the number of lives who have been tragically touched by suicide can be reduced.
Below please find resources that may be helpful to you or someone you know.  We encourage you to share these with friends and colleagues.

Reggie Dabbs is Coming Back to BT
December 9 @ 7:00 
You asked and we responded.  BT was amazed earlier this year when Reggie Dabbs visited our schools.  He has an amazing message and has unbelievable talents.  Be sure to mark your calendars and come out.  If you missed him before, now is your chance.  

You will not be disappointed.