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Archive for the ‘Youth Suicide Master’s in Education Project’ Category

I never thought I would take this step! Yet here I am…a death, a blog, a Master’s project, and a loving, supportive family have brought me here.

Since 2009, I’ve been reading, daily, and commenting, profusely, on an amazing blog, Forever Invictus. The author, Esmeralda Williamson-Noble, has met my literary and spiritual needs immensely with photos, humor, information, inspiration, and experiences of sorrow and grief I can relate to. I love her style of writing; she has literary talent.

We are both wives and mothers first. And we are survivors. We have survived the death of a child by suicide. She began her blog shortly before her son died, unexpectedly, in November 2009. I came across it a few months later in February 2010 and have been reading it ever since. Besides her writing style, curiosity kept me reading. I was curious to read about myself. As she chronicled the first year following her son’s death, I was experiencing my second. Her consistent entries helped me in two ways. First, I could remember and relate to many of the first year thoughts, feelings, and struggles she shared. Second, I could see that I had moved into a different phase of dealing with the tragedy of suicide we both shared. I’ve even named each year. Year one was a “Year of Tears.” Year two was a year of “Healing Action.” Year three, this year, has a title but I am not ready to make it known. So this explains how a blog and a death has brought me to the point of typing my first blog entry.

Although I’ve commented frequently on Forever Invictus, I could never see myself being more public with my thoughts and writing. I both love and hate writing. I am a private writer; I journal and write letters and emails. I am more confident as an academic writer. I think I could write poetry, short stories, or essays if I had the motivation. I’ve tried those genres before but my audience has been small and only people I trust. I don’t have a very tough skin and I can’t separate criticism of my written work from myself. But a Master’s project has taken me public.

I am in the process of completing a Master’s in Education in Special Education program. The topic of my research paper is “Youth Suicide: What a Special Educator Should Know and How a Special Educator Can Support School-wide Suicide Awareness and Prevention Efforts.” Not only did my son die in 2008 but the lives of at least four students at the school where I teach met suicide in one of its forms–thoughts, plans, attempts, deaths, and survivors grief–that year. It was a Year of Tears for more than myself! My paper describes how suicide took front and center stage that year and has been present in my life since then in one way or another. And that’s what this blog is about.

Lastly, I would never have survived the death of one of my eight children if I didn’t have a husband and seven more children to love and to receive their love in return. Love works. Another word for love used by Christians is charity. It is one of the pillar principles of Christianity–faith, hope, and charity. In a Christian’s King James translation of the Bible, an author Paul wrote, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” Hence, the name of my blog, “Kindness Works.” I have a theory that’s incubating about suicide prevention and kindness but that’s for another entry. To wrap up this first blog post, I have taken this step for the reasons I’ve stated. But what got me past the obstacle of fear was the need to reach a broader audience with my project. I will be posting pieces from my research paper here and following up with updates and commentary. Perhaps the title for this year I am now living is “Breaking the Silence.” I am definitely doing that now!

Last, I would like to say: if suicide in one of its forms has not touched your life yet, you are lucky.  The odds are it will.  That’s what my project is about, being prepared–what you need to know and how you can be involved at whatever level is appropriate for you.  Just like most adults recognize the importance of first aid and emergency preparedness, we need to be prepared to recognize and deal with the emotional / psychological crisis of suicide.  We don’t need to become a professional counselor of some type to learn to Identify someone in crisis, Listen with compassion and calmness, and get them to the appropriate Help to help increase their odds of living through the suicide crisis.  Once upon a time, the Heimlich Maneuver, CPR, and 72 hour kits were not common knowledge.  I envision a day when as a society we can safely discuss suicide and know the simple first aid strategies one can take for himself / herself or for another to live through a suicide crisis.  I believe this is achievable and worthwhile.  Realistically, just as not everyone survives a physical heart attack, not everyone will survive an emotional heart attack.  But the knowledge to help save at least one life I believe is worth the effort.

I believe my son “died by ignorance.”  Perhaps if someone could have Identified that he was thinking of suicide; perhaps if someone could have Listened calmly with compassion without freaking out; and perhaps if someone could have known who could have Helped him, (and that Help worked) he would have survived that crisis.  Perhaps…at least it’s worth a try for your student, your friend, your sibling, your parent, your spouse, your co-worker, your daughter,  your son,…or yourself.  Doing nothing is not an option.

I hope you find something of value here, as this blog progresses, on the topic of Youth Suicide.

If what I have written has not motivated you to learn simple suicide prevention first aid and to return to this blog or find other websites with this information, you need to watch this video.  You just never know…better to be prepared.

Aloha, Kukunaokala

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