Saturday, May 21, 2011

Explaining Suicide to Children

Suicide is a topic often surrounded by silence and shame; it is hard for most adults to understand and even harder to explain to children. However, if parents don’t talk to their children about suicide, their children may hear about it elsewhere and may get inaccurate or confusing information.

We believe that children can cope with difficult situations as long as they can talk about it openly with their parents or guardians. Children work hard to make sense out of their world, and adults can help them with that task by providing information and reassurance.

The following guidelines are intended for families who may not be directly affected by a suicide, but who wish to talk about this subject with their child.

Talk to the child in a calm, straightforward manner
Children look to you for cues and will pick up on your discomfort. They will benefit from your ability and willingness to help them understand.

Define suicide for your child
Suicide is when a person takes his or her own life, or does something to make himself or herself die. Most often, people who choose suicide are severely depressed and believe it is the only way to stop their pain. Linda Goldman, in her book Breaking the Silence, defines suicide for children as follows: “Suicide is when people decide they do not want their body to work anymore and they stop their body from working. They are so, so sad or so, so angry or so, so depressed that their mind becomes mixed up. They forget they can get help. There is always another way.” Many professionals discourage the use of the phrase “committed suicide” because of the negative connotations of the verb commit (e.g. crime, sin); you could instead say the person completed suicide, died by suicide, suicided, or took his/her own life.

Distinguish depression as a disease, which is different from the sadness and “depression” that many people experience occasionally. It is normal to occasionally feel sad, lonely, dispirited, or upset, sometimes for no reason, and we often call this depression. This is different from clinical depression, which can be a debilitating disease causing severe emotional pain, hopelessness, and inability to seek help or believe life can be better. People who choose suicide often believe that others will be better off without them. You might explain to a young child that when a person dies by suicide, their mind was sick and they were not able to think clearly and make good decisions.

Emphasize that suicide is not a solution to problems and there are always other choices Medical treatment and counseling can help people who are severely depressed. Talk with your child about coping with sadness and other difficult feelings and help them identify things they can do such as talking with someone, or using art, music, writing or physical activity to express their feelings. Children may need reassurance that you will not choose suicide no matter how sad or upset you are, and that you will seek help if you or anyone in the family ever feels depressed or hopeless. (Do not offer false assurances. If you or your child are experiencing chronic or severe depression, get help immediately. Ele’s Place staff can assist with referrals.)

It is okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers
Even close family members may never know exactly why their loved one chose suicide. As outsiders we can extend our support and compassion to the survivors, being careful not to add to their pain by making judgments or assumptions. Answer your child’s questions honestly, and help them to understand that even though we may feel suicide is a bad choice, people who take their own lives are still loved and missed by their families.

Share your beliefs about what makes life worth living, and your hopes for the future.  Nurture a sense of wonder, joy, and hope in yourself and your children. Be realistic about the challenges of life and seek help when needed, but also share an appreciation for the good things in life.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What you can do if your friend talks about suicide

If you have a friend who is talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don't wait to see if he or she starts to feel better. Talk about it. Most of the time, people who are considering suicide are willing to discuss it if someone asks them out of concern and care.

Some people (both teens and adults) are reluctant to ask teens if they have been thinking about suicide or hurting themselves. That's because they're afraid that, by asking, they may plant the idea of suicide. This is not true. It is always a good thing to ask.

Starting the conversation with someone you think may be considering suicide helps in many ways. First, it allows you to get help for the person. Second, just talking about it may help the person to feel less alone, less isolated, and more cared about and understood — the opposite of the feelings that may have led to suicidal thinking to begin with. Third, talking may provide a chance to consider that there may be another solution.

Asking someone if he or she is having thoughts about suicide can be difficult. Sometimes it helps to let your friend know why you are asking. For instance, you might say, "I've noticed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead. Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?"

Listen to your friend without judging and offer reassurance that you're there and you care. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, stay close — make sure he or she isn't left alone.

Even if you're sworn to secrecy and you feel like you'll be betraying your friend if you tell, you should still seek help. Share your concerns with an adult you trust as soon as possible. If necessary, you can also call a local emergency number (911) or the toll-free number for a suicide crisis line (you can find local suicide crisis numbers listed in your phone book).

The important thing is to notify a responsible adult. Although it may be tempting to try to help your friend on your own, it's always safest to get help.

While we are not professionals, we are grieving parents.  Our lives are forever changed.  One of the main reasons for setting up Zach's Friends is to help.  We simply want to help others out there looking for information.  Please note that there are PROFESSIONALS out there and available to talk and listen to you. 


I continue to stress the importance of opening up to our children, but each family has to make that decision for themselves. It is my hope that through educating ourselves and our children we will be able to erase the stigma and help one another in a time of need.

While I'm heartbroken and sad, I can't just stay silent.  I have to do what I can to speak out about suicide prevention for Zach and for our youth.

Thank you for taking the time to visit,

Melissa Jones
Zach's Mom

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! We are only here to provide articles and resources we have found to be helpful in dealing with our own grief. If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

Monday, May 16, 2011

More about Friend of Zach bracelets

As of today we have shipped over 900 ♥ Friend of Zach ♥ bracelets with requests for more each day!

Because our Zach was such a colorful kid (he wanted to paint one wall in his apartment green, one purple and one chalkboard) we decided to order more bracelets in a wide variety of colors!  

We will continue to send these out at no cost to anyone wishing to wear one.  We are also offering a fundraiser to help us continue to purchase and send these out as well as help us raise money for our Dec. 10th, 2011 Out of the Darkness walk in Upland, CA.  Our goal is $500.

To purchase a ♥ Friend of Zach ♥ bracelet for $1.00 click here.

If you are in the Upland, CA area, please feel free to sign up and join us on this special walk! Team Name: Zach's Friends

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grief After Suicide

Know that you can survive, even if you feel you can't.

Intense feelings of grief can be overwhelming and frightening. This is normal. You are not going crazy; you're grieving.

Feelings of guilt, confusion, anger, and fear are common responses to grief.

You may experience thoughts of suicide. This is common. It doesn't mean you'll act on those thoughts. However, if you begin to feel like you may, ask for help or call 911.

Forgetfulness is a common, but temporary side effect. Grieving takes so much energy that other things may fade in importance.

Keep asking "why" until you no longer need to ask.

Healing takes time. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve.

Grief has no predictable pattern or timetable. Though there are elements of commonality in grief, each person and each situation is unique.

Delay making major decisions if possible. Selling a home, car, cashing in on policies, moving, quitting a job, etc. are all things that should be avoided if possible.

The path of grief is one of twists and turns and you may often feel you are getting nowhere. Remember even setbacks are a kind of progress.

This is the hardest thing you will ever do. Be patient with yourself. Seek out people who are willing to listen when you need to talk and who understand your need to be silent.

Give yourself permission to seek professional help.

Avoid people who try to tell you what to feel and how to feel it and, in particular, those who think you should "be over it by now."

Find a support group for survivors that provides a safe place for you to express your feelings, or simply a place to go to be with other survivors who are experiencing some of the same things you're going through.

Article Source

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! We are only here to provide articles and resources we have found to be helpful in dealing with our own grief. If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Friend of Zach (Jones) Bracelet Fundraiser

While still feeling the deep pain and hurt from losing our son Zachary, we have a desire to help others.  We may not be professionals, but we want to help as many people as we can to find the resources they need to help themselves or someone else.

In the month since our son passed, we have given away approximately 700 Friend of Zach bracelets.  Some to family and friends, many to complete strangers who just want to help raise awareness.

As of right now I know Friend of Zach bracelets are being worn in 7 states.  Help us spread the word and let's get these bracelets into every state.

While we will continue to ship these bracelets out at no charge to those who ask us, we are also offering them for sale on our company website: HERE.  This is a fundraiser to help us raise the money to purchase and send more Friend of Zach bracelets and to purchase materials that will not only help us, but others.  We will also dedicated to sending a portion of each sale to a suicide prevention organization.

Each Friend of Zach fundraiser bracelet is $1.00 + $2.50 shipping.  We can ship up to 7 bracelets for $2.50. 

The bracelets not only serve as a reminder to a wonderful young man, son and big brother, but a reminder to educate ourselves and start talking about depression and suicide.

We'd like to thank you in advance for all of your support, prayers, kind e-mails and the love you have shown our family.  Suicide is not something people want to talk about, however, it's time we do..if for no other reason than to equip ourselves and our kids with the right information should a situation arise with a friend or loved one.

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! We are only here to provide articles and resources we have found to be helpful in dealing with our own grief. If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Suicide-Proof Your Teen

by Lenore Skenazy (Subscribe to Lenore Skenazy's posts)
Mar 1st 2011 11:00AM

Okay, here's the terrible news: A 2009 study of New York City public high school students found one in 10 had attempted suicide, and 3.4 percent got so far as to require medical attention. I wish I could say I'm shocked by this, but I know two teens from wonderful families who made a recent suicide attempt.

One is no longer with us.

So the issue becomes: What should we parents be doing about this? Three things:

The first is to sort of "suicide proof" our homes, says Alan Ross, executive director of The Samaritans of New York, a suicide prevention center. This may seem drastic, but it makes sense. Just like we babyproof when our young kids are in danger of accidents, we can protect our older kids by making it a lot harder for them to harm themselves. That means locking up medicine, toxic liquids like drain cleaners, and, especially, guns. Don't make it easy to die.

Then, says Ross, "Be attentive." By this he means to be on the lookout for any signs of a change in our kids. Everyone has good days and bad ones, of course. But when the bad days last for two weeks -- or when we can see that there has been a change in our child's eating, dressing, or sleeping habits, or something else new, like constant headaches, it is time to be on the alert.

Being alert means that, even if you haven't done it until now, it is time to have "The Talk" with our kids. No, not the talk about sex. The one about suicide.

It's easiest to open this conversation by comparing mental health to physical health. So you can start by pointing out that being sick is normal. When someone gets a cold or a flu or even pneumonia, they know to get some help. For a cold, they take a cough drop. For pneumonia, they'd see a specialist.

Similarly, tell your kid you can have the mental equivalent of a cold, flu or pneumonia. Sometimes when you feel really bad, you might even think of suicide. (Yes, actually say that word out loud. Break the taboo!)

Tell your children that when they feel bad, mood-wise, they can always ask for help from you, a teacher or some other trusted adult. Throw in the fact that, "If you have a friend who feels this way," your child should inform an adult, too. Even if your kid promised not to. Better a broken secret than a dead friend.

Once you let your kids know that they can reach out for help, tell them the truth: Seeking help is a sign of intelligence and strength. It's the opposite of weakness.

Ignoring suicide doesn't make it go away. Take action.


Article Source

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! We are only here to provide articles and resources we have found to be helpful in dealing with our own grief. If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saying Happy 1st Heaven Birthday To My Son

Me, April 27, 2011.  My son Zach's 1st Birthday in Heaven

I recorded these words:

"4/27/11 Sending a birthday message to Zach. If I could have flown away on the string of my balloon for just a moment to see you and talk to you I would, but God needs me here. I will be a servant of God, doing His work here on earth and one day...when God calls me home I will see you, hug you and talk to you for hours on end...I will look into your eyes and say "I LOVE YOU SON"! ♥ Happy 1st Heaven Birthday Zach ♥ We love and miss you so much Zach, Mom ♥"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

People Grieve Differently

Why We Grieve Differently

by Jinny Tesik, M.A.

We accept without question uniqueness in the physical world... fingerprints, snowflakes, etc. But we often refuse that same reality in our emotional world. This understanding is needed, especially in the grieving process. No two people will ever grieve the same way, with the same intensity or for the same duration.

It is important to understand this basic truth. Only then can we accept our own manner of grieving and be sensitive to another's response to loss. Only then are we able to seek out the nature of support we need for our own personalized journey back to wholeness and be able to help others on their own journey.

Not understanding the individuality of grief could complicate and delay whatever grief we might experience from our own loss. It could also influence us, should we attempt to judge the grieving of others - even those we might most want to help.

Each of us is a unique combination of diverse past experiences. We each have a different personality, style, various way of coping with stress situations, and our own attitudes influence how we accept the circumstances around us. We are also affected by the role and relationship that each person in a family system had with the departed, by circumstances surrounding the death and by influences in the present.

Past Experience
Past experiences from childhood on, have a great impact on how we are able to handle loss in the present. What other losses have we faced in our childhood, adolescence, or adulthood? How frightening were these experiences? Was there good support? Were we allowed to express our feelings in a secure environment? Has there been a chance to recover and heal from these earlier losses?

What other life stresses have been going on prior to this recent loss? Has there been a move to a new area? Were there financial difficulties, problems or illness with another member of the family or with us?

What has our previous mental health history been like? Have we had bouts with depression? Have we harbored suicidal thoughts? Have we experienced a nervous breakdown? Have we been treated with medication or been hospitalized?

How has our family cultural influences conditioned us to respond to loss and the emotions of grief (stoic father, emotional mother, etc.)?

Relationship with the Deceased
No outsider is able to determine the special bond that connects two people, regardless of the relationship, role or length of time the relationship has been in existence. Our relationship with the deceased has a great deal to do with the intensity and duration of our grief. What was that relationship? Was the deceased a spouse? A child? A parent? A friend? A sibling? A co-worker?

How strong was the attachment to the deceased? Was it a close, dependent relationship, or intermittent and independent? What was the degree of ambivalence (the love/hate balance) in that relationship?

It is not only the person, but also the role that person played in our life that is lost. How major was that role? Was that person the sole breadwinner, the driver, the handler of financial matters? The only one who could fix a decent dinner? Was that person a main emotional support, an only friend? How dependent were we on the role that person filled?

Circumstances Surrounding The Death
The circumstances surrounding the death; i.e., how the death occurred, are extremely important in determining how we are going to come to an acceptance of the loss.

Was the loss in keeping with the laws of nature as when a person succumbs to old age? Or was order thrown into chaos, as when a parent lives to see a child die? What warnings of loss were there? Was there time to prepare, time to gradually come to terms with the inevitable? Or did death come so suddenly that there was no anticipation of its arrival?

Do we feel that this death could have been prevented or forestalled? How much responsibility am I taking for this death?

Do we feel that the deceased accomplished what he or she was meant to fulfill in this lifetime? Was their life full and rewarding? How much was left unsaid or undone between the deceased and ourselves? Does the extent of unfinished business foster a feeling of guilt?

Influences in the Present
We have looked at the past, at the relationship, and how the loss occurred. Now we see how the influences in the present can impact how we are finally going to come to terms with a current loss.

Age and sex are important factors.

Are we young enough and resilient enough to bounce back? Are we old enough and wise enough to accept the loss and to grow with the experience? Can our life be rebuilt again? What opportunities does life offer now? Is health a problem?

What are the secondary losses that are the result of this death? Loss of income? Home? Family breakup? What other stresses or crises are present?

Our personality, present stability of mental health, and coping behavior play a significant role in our response to the loss.

What kind of role expectations do we have for ourselves? What are those imposed by friends, relatives and others? Are we expected to be the "strong one" or is it all right for us to break down and have someone else take care of us? Are we going to try to assume an unrealistic attempt to satisfy everyone's expectations, or are we going to withdraw from the entire situation?

What is there in our social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds that give us strength and comfort? What role do rituals play in our recovery? Do our religious or philosophical beliefs bring comfort or add sorrow and guilt? What kind of social support is there in our lives during this emotional upheaval?

When a person who is a part of our life dies, understanding the uniqueness of this loss can guide us in finding the support we will need and to recognize when help should come from outside family or friends.

When someone under our care or someone we'd like to help experiences a loss, this understanding is essential. Thus we can guard against a temptation to compare or to judge their grief responses to our own. The awareness of those factors that affect the manner, intensity and duration of grief, should enable us to guide the grieving person in seeking those forms of support suggested by the nature of their loss and the unique way it affects them.

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! We are only here to provide articles and resources we have found to be helpful in dealing with our own grief. If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

My Shoes - A Poem

A beautiful poem that was sent to me by a very sweet friend.


I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step..Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don't hurt quite so much. Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.. I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

I am so thankful because unlike the poem says I have received so much love and no funny looks at all...only looks of love and sympathy. I feel everyone's love, thoughts and prayers and am forever grateful for all the love we've received. ♥