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  1. #1
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Default Teen texting to her friends saying she wants to kill herself

    I have a separated single mother friend whose 13 year old girl is texting to her friend about killing herself the other night.

    This sounds serious so I suggested to her to tell the school and seek out professional help.

    The kid is smart and pretty social but has problems in school (got busted drinking with a .18 BAC drinking alcohol with some other kids and then ratted them out). She has been grounded for an indefinite period for this w exceptions and I think some of the kids she ratted out are pretty damm upset. She has a pattern of going through best friends with the frequency of most people have for changing their bed sheets (and seems pretty good at making friends and is an extrovert, prolly a Esfp)


    The spring semester of school has already started and she wants to be transfered to another school. Yesterday she got sick at school and came home and then started texting her friend that she wanted to kill herself.

    How she acts reminds me of someone who is ADHD but the mother is against ADHD drugs (psychostimulents) the mother is also afraid of putting the kid on antidepressants because hearing the risk taking them or suddenly stopping taking them may cause suicide. The kid was taken to psychiatrists/psychologists before but she doesn't like them and will clam up or totally BS them.

    The grandmother is suggesting a boot camp for brats but it seems like if she goes their she will be moved from a school in a nice area pretty high standards to being stuck with the dirty dozen of losers at a stage in life where strong peer bonds are formed.

    The mother is overwhelmed and is suspicious this is just another strategy in a long history of manipulative schemes and capricious conduct. The father looks like he is going to prison a long time for white collar crimes.

    Brat or Batty?

    Suggestions on how to address?
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
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    Twerking & Lurking ayoitsStepho's Avatar
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    Has her mother pulled her aside and actually talked to her about what's going on? Something is highly up if she's already drinking alcohol, changing friends as often as you say, and then wants to kill herself. She's obviously unhappy. Personally, I don't think sending her to a boot camp would be the wisest thing to do. This girl is an at age where she's trying to find herself, and if nobody is there to help guide her then she's going to lead herself into trouble.

    Is her mother constant in her life? I can't help but think that this problem may begin in the home.
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    ayoitsStepho is becoming someone else. Actually her true self, a rite of passage.

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    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ayoitsStepho View Post
    Has her mother pulled her aside and actually talked to her about what's going on? Something is highly up if she's already drinking alcohol, changing friends as often as you say, and then wants to kill herself. She's obviously unhappy. Personally, I don't think sending her to a boot camp would be the wisest thing to do. This girl is an at age where she's trying to find herself, and if nobody is there to help guide her then she's going to lead herself into trouble.

    Is her mother constant in her life? I can't help but think that this problem may begin in the home.
    Yes her mother is constant in her life but she asks for space and the mother gives it to her.

    It seems like she is in a constant battle with her mom to be the alpha female (and she seems to be winning...very dominant). The girl is smart, likable, manipulative, quick and crazy like a fox. Whether she truly is crazy is kinda hard to believe...but she gets herself in these bizarre situations. At this point I really don't think the mom can straighten her out on her own.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

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    You should always take talk about suicide seriously. That's the first thing.

    This is my reading of the situation:
    Going through "best friends" and ratting her friends out suggests trust issues, which probably has to do with her parents' separation and her father's legal problems. That "she asks for space and the mother gives it to her" also suggests that beyond the trust issues, the mother is not really parenting. Of course teenagers - particularly girls at that age - have things that they don't want to tell their parents. You have to use judgment calls as to determine when it's necessary to push (and how to push so as not to destroy the relationship) and when it's necessary to let things go. 13 year olds cannot take responsibility for the decisions that they make. Legally and physically (biologically), they are immature and lack the cognitive abilities and experience to be able to decide what is right for themselves. However, at that age you feel like you are an adult - and that if the kids around you are doing something, you're only mature if you follow and prove yourself. That's why there are power struggles. It's the role of the mother to put her foot down and take charge, and actually PARENT. Unfortunately, this won't work if she doesn't trust the mother, and doesn't talk to her about the issues.

    The way that she's behaving (suicidal, fobbing psychiatrists off, manipulating people to get what she wants, drinking and wanting peer approval but not trusting her friends etc.) suggests NOT ADHD, but deep trust issues. That obviously can't be overcome by sending her to boot camp. IMHO, that might be the last straw, destroying the relationship that she has with her mother. I also don't think that medication is the answer. She needs to find SOMEONE/ANYONE to talk to honestly about things. She's wearing so many masks now that it's impossible for her to take them off with her family or friends. That's why she wants to move to a new school, and create a new personality there to solve all the problems in her life. Unfortunately, at this point she still doesn't know who she is, and doesn't know if it'll work. But she thinks that it's better to try that than be who others think she is. She's smart; she knows what her mom, grandmother and ex-best-friends and ex-friends think of her. If she can't change the environment that she's in, she'll be stuck where she is - thus, suicide is better. Her self-esteem probably isn't great at this point. It's a very typical modern adolescent girl problem.

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    Boldly Gone Malice's Avatar
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    I want to say it's a normal part of life.
    Teendom, and I can only speak from my own experience, was a hard mix of heavy social drama and a bad home environment. I did a lot of things I wasn't proud of and acted out in a variety of negative ways. I talked about killing myself constantly, I even went through cutting, eating/binging periods and violence. I agree with nonsequitur, she needs someone to TALK to. Maybe not a psychiatrist because she knows deep down that they probably don't really care, they're being paid to listen, but someone that she can genuinely trust and open up to. I also agree with a likeliness of low self esteem and that medication is probably a bad idea.

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    You should always take talk about suicide seriously. That's the first thing.

    This is my reading of the situation:
    Going through "best friends" and ratting her friends out suggests trust issues, which probably has to do with her parents' separation and her father's legal problems. That "she asks for space and the mother gives it to her" also suggests that beyond the trust issues, the mother is not really parenting. Of course teenagers - particularly girls at that age - have things that they don't want to tell their parents. You have to use judgment calls as to determine when it's necessary to push (and how to push so as not to destroy the relationship) and when it's necessary to let things go. 13 year olds cannot take responsibility for the decisions that they make. Legally and physically (biologically), they are immature and lack the cognitive abilities and experience to be able to decide what is right for themselves. However, at that age you feel like you are an adult - and that if the kids around you are doing something, you're only mature if you follow and prove yourself. That's why there are power struggles. It's the role of the mother to put her foot down and take charge, and actually PARENT. Unfortunately, this won't work if she doesn't trust the mother, and doesn't talk to her about the issues.

    The way that she's behaving (suicidal, fobbing psychiatrists off, manipulating people to get what she wants, drinking and wanting peer approval but not trusting her friends etc.) suggests NOT ADHD, but deep trust issues. That obviously can't be overcome by sending her to boot camp. IMHO, that might be the last straw, destroying the relationship that she has with her mother. I also don't think that medication is the answer. She needs to find SOMEONE/ANYONE to talk to honestly about things. She's wearing so many masks now that it's impossible for her to take them off with her family or friends. That's why she wants to move to a new school, and create a new personality there to solve all the problems in her life. Unfortunately, at this point she still doesn't know who she is, and doesn't know if it'll work. But she thinks that it's better to try that than be who others think she is. She's smart; she knows what her mom, grandmother and ex-best-friends and ex-friends think of her. If she can't change the environment that she's in, she'll be stuck where she is - thus, suicide is better. Her self-esteem probably isn't great at this point. It's a very typical modern adolescent girl problem.
    THIS!!!! Even if she is fighting to be in an alpha role, it's a very insecure position. She actually wants her mother to care enough to stay in control and to help her and my guess is that the mother is distracted with everything going on in her own life (and possibly what got her into the fix her family is now in). Everything in this kid's world has crumbled, and it's not surprising that she's scared to death. I'd also recommend that what she needs is a lot of involvement with adults who will lead the way for her, rather than friends, whose attachment is going to be insecure. In that vein, a cell phone is the last thing she needs because it allows her to constantly keep in touch with friends, in an attempt to "hold her place" with them so that she is not replaced.

    What she needs most desperately is a caring adult's proximity, protection and provision. They need to provide her with a sense of identity through relationships/connections, protect her from dating/excessive peer interaction (she's not ready and it's going to deeply impact her identity at a point where she doesn't yet know how to draw safe boundaries for them), think ahead of activities that are positive and that will fill her thoughts and time, help her to look outwards (volunteering, spending time with people she can learn from or people she can help) and help her develop skills which will give her pride in herself, individuality and a sense of who she is. That way the opinions of fickle younger people and even the things she is having to deal with at home will not impact her as negatively because she's got more to fall back on. This is going to be inconvenient to her mother and there will be a lot of resistance at first, but if she cares about saving her child, it is the only way. She must provide more than the child is asking for if the child is going to feel that their needs are being met. I would back off on provision of stuff, and instead give the things that are more difficult to: proximity, time alone, listening, discussion, attention, planning ahead etc. It is important that her mother doesn't take away the negative influences from her, but rather crowds them out with better ones. This is not just a one time crisis. This crisis should indicate that there needs to be a whole lifestyle change. Think of it like a heart attack not just being something you perform surgery and you are done with. You need to change diet, exercise, stress levels, relationships etc. This is the same!!! If you have any influence with the mother (and I suspect you do), both you and her need to take this very seriously and the mother especially needs to take on a much more active role. She will also need a support system of other adults in her life that will help her - people who may be able to say things she can't, who can offer skills to the daughter, who can extend themselves in directions the mother can't etc.

  7. #7
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    This is NOT a normal part of being a teen, even though many teens are experiencing these same problems. Unfortunately, as a culture, we've come to believe that when children do not need monitoring in the same way as they do as babies, that we need to give them space and let them take charge of their own lives. The negative outcomes of this have become so common that we no longer recognize this as a sign of bad emotional health and emotional starvation. Children must have a longstanding invitation to be in your presence (even when they are at their worst) and to eat at your emotional table if they are going to be secure people. When they keep coming to the table and there is nothing there for them, they will eventually seek out other people's tables (peers, internet, boyfriend/girlfriend, adults who approach them), even if it is not their first choice.

    Children simply don't have the experience, foresight, or long range information available to be able to "feed themselves emotionally" or to make the kinds of decisions they are left with making if a parent is not taking an active role and is involved enough that they know what is happening in the child's day and in their heart. When a small child learns to ride a bike, he is more independent, but actually needs more supervision and discussion about safety than before. It is the same with a teenager. If you want a child who can take on responsibility as an adult, is thankful and content and contributes to the world, who becomes emotionally mature, able to stand alone, and can maintain a sense of individuality within a relationship or group, then you need to provide for their needs. A committed and caring adult leading from an alpha position is indeed their best bet, flaws and all. If they have not been doing this, they can expect to encounter sadness, anger and resistance at first, but this is only a means of testing whether the person will hang in there, and also dealing with the residual emotions that have been stifled. It's like getting pus out of a wound before it can heal.

    The only way a parent will have the power to influence their child or to direct them is if they take the time (and it takes a lot of listening, living, and proximity) to create a relationship. You must connect before you can direct.

    I would highly recommend the book "Hold On To Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld. It discusses a lot of these ideas. It suggests that normal emotional maturation will happen naturally if the child's attachment needs are being fulfilled. If those needs are not fulfilled, they will manifest themselves in a whole host of negative behaviours: inattention, restlessness, rebellion, lack of curiosity, lack of identity, self-harming, emotional or physical numbness, aggression, anger, clinginess, oppositional defiance, extreme inflexibility, peer orientation etc. Those in turn will also have spin-off effects.

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    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Great points although am a bit unclear on how this can be done could anyone provide a concrete example of a schedual or regiment on how all of this might be accomplished (a nuts and bolt example of one of many ways, activities one would do with child X?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Basic information you need to know just to be in touch is similar to what you would pursue with an adult you are close to. This not only informs you of what kinds of people, influences, feelings, and events populate her day, but it also gives you enough information to know how to protect her and what she needs provided for her. This would include:
    - Who her friends are, and a few distinguishing facts about them, how long she's known them and so on.
    - What subjects she takes and who her teachers are. Which of those teachers does she like/dislike or why? Does she feel successful? If not, what is it that she's having trouble with?
    - What she prefers to do after school, sports she's in (who coach is, other kids on team, what position she plays), what after school activities or clubs she may be in etc.
    - Who would she go to when something important (sad or happy) happens? Is there anyone? Why them?

    Be patient and prepared to be in there for the long haul Obviously, this is information that you will not get just by sitting down and having a couple of talks, asking direct questions. This is the kind of stuff that happens from sitting on the edge of her bed before she goes to sleep visiting, or if she's sitting around before supper is ready or before the dishes have been cleared (assuming anyone eats together - if they don't that probably should change, as it is a time not just of physical nourishment, but emotional nourishment), what she says right after she comes home from school etc. If you are hearing nothing, that's a sign that she doesn't think you're interested or she has other people doing the listening (via computer or cell or peers) or she has no one. Think about the personal stuff that comes up on here - most of it is openly disclosed, but it has happened over time and in the context of people sharing information about themselves first, or discussing thoughts and opinions openly with other people. You have to share information and also ask questions and spend time together before this kind of stuff comes out and you can connect. Once she starts talking, you will probably have to listen to a lot of drivel too before you get to the good stuff! She'll love you for it though. Healthy children are "noisy" children. A lot of people assume that because they do not hear about or are not bothered with their children's problems that nothing is wrong. In reality, nothing is further from the truth. If your child is healthy and talking, you will know what is upsetting them and hear all about it regularly!

    You need activities where you are going about your normal work or routines, which could include her. Activities together like driving, playing ping poing or some other game in the evening, doing a job together, washing dishes together etc are ways of connecting in a non-pointed manner. Deep talking may happen, or it may not, but it will log time spent together that will open the way for more talking later. Often discussion results, without it being contrived, and people get closer and understand each other better any time they spend with one another.

    She may not be interested in spending time with you at first, but if so, persist! If she seems angry at first, just continue being kind and dodge the bullets. Rather than using head to head confrontation times to straighten things out, see them as sources of additional information to inform your future course of action and then discuss in the off times once those emotions have been discharged. Just as small children resist going to bed or doing other routines that are important to their overall well-being, she may also resist spending time together, particularly if her friends aren't doing that. Smart parents do not cave into a three years old's demands, because they know that ultimately it will have a very detrimental effect on the child. Therefore, older children also need the benefit of your foresight to what will best benefit their emotional health. An important caveat though is that if there is resentment, alienation or anger, you need to allow her to address that and still invite her to be in your presence when she says things that make you feel angry, guilty or that you think are unfair. She needs to deal with that before she is going to enjoy spending time with you. Ride out the storm. Also, no one likes doing things that they are not good at or are unsure of how to go about doing. You need to lead the way in your interactions. As she becomes more comfortable and re-acquaints herself with you, she will also be more open to spending time together.

    Schedule her time, including her in your activities, interests and work. Having nothing to do, usually gives time to get into trouble or to brood on negative thoughts or feelings. This means having a balance of some responsibilities around the house (preferably that you work on together), getting school work done well (with you checking it over or helping her through the process), and thinking ahead to several other positive options that she could do. Things like you reading a good book aloud is a way to spend time together and create memories and use her evening positively, even if it is only 15 minutes at a shot, playing a game together, stock the house with the kinds of things you'd like her to be exposed to, find good people that you want her to know better or learn something from, have her get involved in a sport/playing a musical instrument/dance etc where she will learn confidence, have time daily taken up in getting better at the skill, and she learns to take instruction from more people than yourself. Get her involved with extended family if they live nearby, if there are good people who will care about her and who are safe. Have newspapers around to read. Work on a project together like building something, fixing something, painting etc, which not only improves your surroundings, but it gives her some ownership and a sense of identity and skill development while spending time with you. Go for walks or bikerides (physical activity and exercise, plus relationship building). Work out together. A lot of these things are things that you need to do anyway.

    Limit her screen time - she needs real relationship and real skills. Screen time is going to interfere with this and also leaves it up to her to provide for her own needs. She also learns to relate in a passive way, being stimulated by an external factor, rather than learning to generate her own thoughts and ideas that will entertain and develop her.

    Include her in your life rather than having a life with your partner and leaving her to the periphery of that with what friends she can cobble up. The same principles that allow you to become close to a partner or a friend are the same ones that will allow her to open up to you. Don't ask her what she wants you to do, but rather do as a significant other does - make nice plans (not spoiling, but taking needs into account) together, get to know her likes and dislikes, build traditions together (make pizza on Thursdays or have a show you always watch together or go out or have a certain activity planned together regularly so that she knows that there is always time budgeted for her), surprise her occasionally with some kind of treat, pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues etc. This will make her feel that you actually do care about what she has to say, rather than that you are just trying to avert an inconvenient problem to you. Let her talk a lot and let it inform you if it is negative, without taking it personally. Just as an angry girlfriend will have plenty to say when she is upset initially, if you allow her to talk it out and also show that she is important to you, she becomes an pleasant and easy person to spend time around. If there is stuffed down anger that has not been expressed, you may need to make her feel safe to express that so that you can disinfect the wound and get on with it healing! Again, health usually equals noise.

    Expose her to many different experiences and the skills/scripting needed to be successful in them. Confidence often comes from becoming comfortable in a wide variety of situations and contexts. If you are going to get gas, show her how to pump it or draw attention to how you would use a debit card or visa card when paying. Post a package together so she knows what you would say to the person. If you go somewhere, show her how to read a map. Script her with how you would ask directions to a certain place. Show her where you can go on the internet to look up an address or phone number. Talk about different scenarios and how a person could handle them in different ways and what they could say. Model what you'd say to a sales person if they ask you if they can help and then script her and have her do it. Have company over and show her how to serve a guest or what her part is in being a part of the conversation without dominating or avoiding it altogether. Show her how to cook a few basic dishes. Show her how to a set a table. Talk about why they put on extra cutlery in formal settings and what it's for. In short, orient her to her world.

    Assess the situation, as a doctor would. What are her symptoms and what is the prescription for them? In particular, I would recommend paying attention to the following, in your quest to orient her to her world and make her confident. Most parents avoid social situations that highlight their child's deficiencies, as well as situations that do. Children need MORE practice and modelling rather than less if they are having problems relating to other people or being successful in a variety of contexts outside of what they are most familiar with.

    Learning happens in four stages:
    1) Watching something being done.
    2) Doing it with help.
    3) Doing it without assistance.
    4) Teaching someone else how to do it.
    For the different things you do together, mentally note where she's at in this process. Each stage in this process may involve several levels of adult involvement (checking after a job is done, remaining present for support, etc)

    Children need boundaries and provision. You know how small children get into trouble or danger if you do not think ahead and present them with good options? That doesn't mean that they need constant entertainment, but you need things like books and playdoh and blocks and that sort of thing to present to them when they are done with the last thing. They also need routines for how to clean up, and modelling and scripting for how to relate to other people, and ideas for how they could play with something. As adults we do this very naturally with small children, but we forget to as children get older and need that even more. There needs to be age appropriate activities ready for her, along with the adult guidance, routines, directions and modelling for how to use them.

    You can provide her with the security she needs! It is tremendously safe feeling when someone not only takes the time to do this, but also has had the forethought to anticipate one's needs. (Think about how much more freedom a girlfriend will give you to spend time with friends if she knows that you already are carving out predictable time on a regular basis for her). Then the person does not need to fight to make sure their needs are met (and become either clingy or rebellious or annoying in the process!). When a child is sure that all their needs will be met and they are receiving even more provision than they are requesting, they want to try their wings a bit and become more independent and self-generating of ideas and thoughts rather than either clinging to or fighting you.

    They also are then able to accept provision, which then allows them to focus on giving provision to someone else (like a younger sibling, an elderly person who needs their help, a small child, a pet, an adult who requests their assistance, etc). They have extra resources left over to give. This makes them much more enjoyable to live with and ensures that their future relationships will be considerably healthier.

    More importantly than anything, this girl needs a sense of identity built through knowing that there are secure boundaries for her, and someone who is looking out for her needs before she even thinks of them. If you can do that for her, you will have given her the greatest gift possible in the world and made a valuable friend who will be a rich addition to your life long after she leaves home.

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    If she's drinking, this is a strong indication that she's trying to get her mother's attention and be given real boundaries, that she's trying to numb out emotional pain, or that she is strongly peer oriented (if she's doing that with other people). All three should indicate action on her mother's part and not just of a disciplinary variety. She needs real attachments that will provide a compass point and stability.

    ADHD is more often than not caused by attachment issues. It is a name for a collection of symptoms, rather than a disease that comes upon someone. When we are not well attached, there is an inner alarm bell that goes off, which should prompt us to try to get those emotional needs met so that other development can continue in the natural manner it normally would. Whenever those needs do not get addressed for a long period of time, it is like an inner alarm going off constantly, which causes restlessness and anxiety, but it is no longer identified as being an alarm calling the person to action.

    If this restlessness and anxiety go unaddressed, it advances into the brain numbing the child's emotional responses (and sometimes even physical ones) to protect it from a vulnerability too great to bear. Unfortunately, this numbness makes the child insensitive to important social cues that could help her steer around rejection or danger, and it also makes it harder to connect with anyone emotionally because vulnerability (which is needed to connect) can result in further wounding.

    Ironically, this lack of awareness and inability to soak up love means that the person keeps inflicting deeper and deeper wounds that further numb them and it becomes a vicious circle. After some time they become both tearless and fearless, lose their resilience and adaptability and persist in behaviours that do not work. This creates aggression and frustration and a further inability to adapt.

    Once a person is tearless and fearless, they may turn to self-harm to just be able to feel, or to be able to exert some control over the other emotional problems that they cannot affect. They may take risks that others don't and not feel any of the usual apphension that is natural to feel about taking those risks.

    This state is one experienced by an alarmingly large segment of our population, and I believe explains a lot of the self-defeating and dangerous behaviours that we see among young adults, as well as their inability to mature out of the behaviours they are exhibiting.

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