Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 57 total)
  • Parental Advice – Child Suicide
  • Daughter number one started secondary school back in September.
    So far this year (we are three months in) she has been bullied. She had a boyfriend who said he was going to kill himself and we had to call the police as he wouldn’t answer his phone. Then she had another boyfriend who brought a knife into school and threatened to stab her third boyfriend. Last night I saw on her phone messages from boyfriend number three asking her how to commit suicide and then sending her pictures of his scratched up arm where he has “already tried”!

    What is going on with the world? These kids are 11! When I was that age my biggest worry was when the next episode of grange hill was going to be on telly.

    I am struggling with this. My biggest concern is that daughter was so scared about the first suicide situation that we ended up calling the police, she couldn’t sleep or stop crying she was so worried. This last one she didn’t even tell us. Its like its just a normal thing now. And as for 11 yr olds carrying knives to school!

    I want to remove her from school, so she is not hanging around with these kids any longer. But its come as such a shock going from primary school where the world is all rosey. To secondary school where all hell seems to be breaking loose. Will it just be same shit different school if we do?

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    Jaysus. My sympathies. I think I’d move town, certainly school.

    It does sound like she has been exceptionally unlucky with her peer group. What do the school say?

    It does sound like she has been exceptionally unlucky with her peer group. What do the school say?

    Wifey is reporting this latest incident this morning so I haven’t heard about that one yet. But once reported that’s the last you hear. The school are not allowed to discuss other peoples children with you.

    grantyboy
    Member

    have you made the school aware of all this so they can act?

    have you made the school aware of all this so they can act?

    Yes. But once reported that’s the last you will hear of it, as above.

    This is extremely prevelent in the group of children my daughter mix’s with and in her year (year 9) in general, has been multiple suicide attempts both in and out of school that I am aware of, self harm and suicide just seems to of been normalised both on social media and now in real life for them. I have considered moving her school but have no confidence that she won’t just seek out children in the same headspace. It really makes me dispair that many of them are so deeply unhappy.

    handybar
    Member

    I have nothing to add but my sympathies.
    My 10 year old neice now has a smartphone and my heart fell when I first saw her with it.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    But once reported that’s the last you hear.

    It sounds like they have a systemic problem, at least in that year group. Make an appointment to discuss your safeguarding concerns with the head of Key Stage 3, or someone higher up. They don’t have to discuss specific individuals with you, but they shouldn’t use that to shut down a conversation tackling these kinds of behaviours/social media generally.

    PS – it’s great that she is prepared to share this kind of messaging with you, and that hopefully you can have supportive non-judgy conversations with her about how you can help her.

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Subscriber

    You’re less than a term in so you should get out quick. I presume the secondary is the catchment for your daughter’s primary school. Have you spoken to any of her primary friend’s parents to see if they’re having strong negative experiences? Of course it goes without saying that you need a frank discussion with the school to try and gauge how much of this is ‘normal’ (did I really say that??) vs exceptional.

    My sympathies. Rubbish situation.

    PS – it’s great that she is prepared to share this kind of messaging with you, and that hopefully you can have supportive non-judgy conversations with her about how you can help her.

    That’s part of my concern now. She told us straight away the first time. Bit didn’t tell us at all the second. (like its just something that happens now) . We have a rule that we can look through the kids phones anytime we like so it was sheer chance that I saw these messages.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    The school might not discuss the other kids with you but this affecting your daughter so they should bloody well discuss how they are dealing with that aspect.

    Get into school and get a meeting, if you don’t like what you hear, look at different schools.

    None are perfect but you need confidence the school has a plan….

    it’s great that she is prepared to share this kind of messaging with you, and that hopefully you can have supportive non-judgy conversations with her about how you can help her.

    Hold that thought, that level of communication with your kids is golden.

    All the best.

    MarkBrewer
    Member

    self harm and suicide just seems to of been normalised both on social media and now in real life for them

    I definitely think theres something in that, I can’t stand facebook twitter etc etc and dread the thought of when my daughter grows up and wants access to all that crap.

    3 boyfriends since September would worry me especially ones that ****ed up, are all the kids at school like that or has just been unlucky? Boyfriend number 3 is definitely an attention seeker!

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    If you have a better school in the area then make the decision now and move her. The longer you leave it the harder it will be to move her. My kids go to the better school in the area, they have quite a few who move over from the other schools and the fit in really quickly. Kids are much more adaptable to change than we give them credit for.

    We had an issue similar issue to you in first year of secondary and it scared the life out of me. Not quite as serious as you but around similar themes. We are lucky enough to live next door to the deputy head and she gave us a proper talking to about social media and phones. Her point was that when we were kids, if someone wanted to bully you, abuse you or otherwise make your life miserable out of school they had to come round your house to do it. As a result your parents probably knew about it. Now, with phones, that stress is in kids rooms, it is there when they go to sleep, when they wake up, it is always there. It exposes them to so much, at such a vulnerable age and it is available 24hrs a day. Phones are an absolute menace.

    As a direct result of what happened, we now have three rules.
    1. Phones are accessible to parents. we don’t often do it, but we retain the right to check through their phones. We did this after things kicked off in first year. I was genuinely appalled what I found and it resulted in some very awkward conversations with other parents.
    2. Phones are banned from bedrooms, they stay downstairs in our house.
    3. Screen time rules effectively turn them off between 9pm and 8am and limit app time throughout the day.

    Although they complain about it, constantly, my daughters are happier when we limit their phones, they get time to relax and switch off. My eldest in now 14 and the phone thing seems to be easing, she is able to better self police what to worry about and we are starting to relax the rules a bit.

    The lesson I learned was to not assume bad stuff in phones happens to other peoples kids.

    Premier Icon Yak
    Subscriber

    Good to hear you have a good level of communication and openness.
    I have noted similar on peer-group social media from other parents that then results in direct messages with suicide content. Is it normalised? I don’t know, but clearly is all kicks in at secondary school.
    The advice we have been given from an educational psychologist is that children (in general) can’t properly process the link from screen/social media stuff and reality until they are 14/15 or so. Hence his recommendation to us that social media is heavily limited to start with, no phone use late in the evening, etc. All obvious stuff, but likely to be in the face of peer-pressure for kids.
    Good luck OP.

    3 boyfriends since September would worry me

    Me too, but in context its not surprising. She doesn’t fit in well (has tourettes) and has even from a young age been desperate to “grow up” and become a teenager. So, in her head to be one of the popular girls you have to have a boyfriend. (we can blame American teen sitcoms for that)

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    That’s part of my concern now. She told us straight away the first time. Bit didn’t tell us at all the second. (like its just something that happens now) . We have a rule that we can look through the kids phones anytime we like so it was sheer chance that I saw these messages.

    OK. That’s a good rule to have. And I’m sure you’ve had the conversation about how this kind of stuff is not normal, even if most of her peer group seem to be doing it…

    Good luck. It’s a fine line between being supportive and offering her something to rebel against, and it gets harder from this age onwards. Are there any extra out of school activities she could do (even paid ones) which could offer a different group of friends to compare and contrast, and devour her free time so she’s not sat in her room looking at Snapchat?

    Yeah, we have similar phone rules…..

    1. we can check them whenever we want without question.
    2. they get handed in at 7pm.

    johndoh
    Member

    Boyfriend number 3 is definitely an attention seeker!

    Possibly, but that doesn’t mean his actions will not escalate when he becomes more desperate for the attention he isn’t getting.

    As your daughter has Tourettes, does she get any third-party help/counselling? Is this something that CAMHS are able to help with as, although we can understand why she might be acting the way she is, she can be helped to understand why it might not always be good for her mental health to be involved in such situations.

    On a more personal note, it really does disturb me just how many young people are struggling with mental health issues. One of our daughters (yr 6) struggles massively with anxiety and we know directly of two others in her year struggling with their own mental health issues and are in therapy like she is. There are also others in the year that we ‘know of’ but, as they aren’t in her friendship group, we don’t know the details of it. At a time where CAMHS funding and more widely mental health support funding is being slashed it is scary to see all this happening before our eyes. As mentioned above, at that age I barely had a care in the world yet these days the pressures are so great that childhoods are being lost.

    Premier Icon wors
    Subscriber

    My son went through the mill after starting secondary school, the school was really good and we went to cahms also. Its a real worry, and i think the whole social media is a lot to blame. But as much as i dislike it its the norm amongst kids now.

    He’s come through the other side hopefully now, he knows how to manage himself if he’s feeling low. Still pisses around on snapchat far too much though.

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Subscriber

    I just spent the night hugging my lad. His anxiety levels are so high since starting secondary school, however he has been anxious for many years now. He talks about not being here anymore and wanting it all to end, and to be frank it’s scaring the life out of me.

    For the first time I’ve kept him off school today due to his mental health.  We have an appointment with the GP on Thursday morning, hoping for a referral to CAHMS again.

    We can’t blame social media for my lads mental health issues, though it certainly doesn’t help.  We’ve tried lots of different things from CBT to hypnotherapy over the years, and we’re now looking at medication as a tool to help him.

    I’m scared that if we leave it any longer he’ll discover the means to act out his threats.

    Sorry for the thread hijack, keep starting my own post then bottling hitting the post button.  I hope your daughter is okay, just protect her the best you can and keep communicating with her.

    Steve

    concrete24
    Member

    Hi OP,
    Apologies for the long post in advance. We are in a similar situation with my eldest (age 10 – year 6). We are in a three tier school system, so he moved up to middle school last year and will move again for year 9.

    At primary school he was lively and popular and loved school. He has quite bad dyslexia and works ultra-hard to keep up with his peers. Last year he started to suffer some persistent low level bullying. The school took it seriously but the action taken was fairly soft. This year the bullying has escalated and he has had a very tough time of it, culminating in ‘not wanting to be here anymore’ and very low self-esteem – a completely different child. However, the school have now taken a much more serious approach (I feel because we documented what was happening in my son’s words and explained it calmly and objectively to the school – we know he’s not a saint but he is clearly the victim in this).

    They acknowledged there is a real problem with the year group and other kids were sharing the same experiences. They have now had an external behavioural specialist visit the school and interview each child individually and confidentially about how they feel, who they like, who they don’t like etc. From that they have restructured the seating in the classes, established little support groups for the kids (the kids don’t necessarily know they are support groups!) and ongoing one to one sessions with a child behaviour specialist for the kids being bullied and the bully’s.

    It has not completely solved the issue but it has helped a lot and is slowly giving him strength and confidence. I can’t really fault the schools efforts now. We previously discussed taking him out of the school but he pragmatically identified that it could be just as bad at a new school and ultimately he will have to face these kids in year 9 so wants to sort it now. I think he’s right. If the school refused to acknowledge the issue then I would think differently.

    It is extremely hard to find the right balance on social media. Much of his bullying is about being ostracised by kids he thought were friends and excluded from the groups that form. Not allowing him on social media at all makes him feel even more isolated, (and gives the other kids another thing to bully him about), while letting him on there opens up the risk of cyber bullying and seeing things we don’t want him to see at his age.

    He is a very mature kid in a lot of ways and the compromise we arrived at is that he can join the class WhatsApp group and other groups with kids we know, but we will monitor what is being said. We will be non-judgemental on the day-to-day stuff that they talk about\share but will intervene if we see anything that properly concerns us. Practically this means that we let it pass when we see other 10\11 year olds swearing – but we get raise concerns if they talk derogatorily about another kid or share anything obscene, (which has happened). That intervention would be to discuss what had been posted, whether it merits leaving the group, whether it needs to be raised with the school etc.

    I instinctively dislike him being on there but have to acknowledge it is a lifeline for him to be able to chat with old friends that went to different schools and his cousin who looks out for him with a teenagers viewpoint.

    Like you we have seen things we never thought 10 or 11 year olds would discuss – depression and suicide, relationships etc. The girls in particular talk about boyfriends all the time – they seem to chop and change on a weekly basis, I think it is all fairly innocent although you are right to try and keep up with what your daughters current situation is! I wouldn’t hesitate to report anything of a safeguarding issue to the school – I would want to know exactly what action had been taken about the knives in school that you mentioned – it doesn’t necessitate knowing individual names.

    With regards to gravitating towards certain types of kids – I don’t think you can control that or choose their friends for them – the best thing you can do is what you are doing – talking to her and talking to the school. The fact you take her fears seriously is really important, she won’t forget that.

    Dealing with this can be exhausting. Don’t know if any of this helps you – but you sound like a good dad and are not alone!

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    @twistedpencil That’s so awful. He’s lucky to have people who want to protect and care for him as much as you do. Makes you wonder how many other households are silently wrestling with these terrible situations.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Hang on, an 11 year old has had 3 boyfriends???

    Dealing with this can be exhausting. Don’t know if any of this helps you – but you sound like a good dad and are not alone!

    Thank you. and thanks for the long post and everyone elses. Its good and bad to know others are dealing with similar issues. Its so depressing that it appears to be so widespread amongst this age group.
    I am pushing for a school move with mum, as step dad its not totally my decision so I have to convince mum and biological dad its the right move.

    Hang on, an 11 year old has had 3 boyfriends???

    See previous post on this.

    johndoh
    Member

    Thank you. and thanks for the long post and everyone elses. Its good and bad to know others are dealing with similar issues. Its so depressing that it appears to be so widespread amongst this age group.

    It’s terrifying – our daughter goes for weekly sessions and we go once a month for updates (with her blessing) and we see a constant stream of little boys and girls, some even younger than her, going for their therapy sessions. We know personally of people with such high anxiety they absolutely refuse to do anything outside of direct school days (and even struggling with that) so no clubs, birthday parties, play-dates etc, others that are so obsessed with never doing things wrong (and the fear of reprisals) that the only way out they can see is suicide, others that have threatened to physically harm others with weapons. And this is in a ‘nice’ school in Harrogate, not a run-down and under-funded inner city school and this is only our limited knowledge within our circles. The head teacher has intimated (during our meetings with them) that the problems are very widespread.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I’ve nothing to add other than my support and sympathy.

    Can you get advice from anywhere? E.g.
    https://www.seemescotland.org/

    Please do press on for help. I’ve a good friend who’s son committed suicide with no warning at age 15. That’s three years ago and he is still picking himself up of the floor. I just don’t know how anyone deals with this.

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    @trailwagger … Apologies if I’ve missed it but who at the school have you spoken with? I understand they won’t talk about individuals but they should be in a position to provide you some overarching reassurance regarding what they are doing about this.

    Easier said than done but have you other schools to consider?

    @twistedpencil … dang. Sorry to hear that.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    boyfriends is a VERY relative term. My lad is in the same year etc as the OP and a few others.

    One girl called him last week on his phone, but he didn’t ahve the number, so i answered it…

    “Who’s this….?”
    “I’m James’s ex…..”
    “Oh…. ok”

    So i chatted to him about it… It’s very much a term, rather than an action. They’d not held hands, touched, kissed or anything, they’d not even spent much time together…. It was just a figure of speech more than anything else.

    Apparently he’s had 4 G/Fs in this school year already… but has 0 interest in girls.

    boyfriends is a VERY relative term. My lad is in the same year etc as the OP and a few others.
    One girl called him last week on his phone, but he didn’t ahve the number, so i answered it…
    “Who’s this….?”
    “I’m James’s ex…..”
    “Oh…. ok”
    So i chatted to him about it… It’s very much a term, rather than an action. They’d not held hands, touched, kissed or anything, they’d not even spent much time together…. It was just a figure of speech more than anything else.
    Apparently he’s had 4 G/Fs in this school year already… but has 0 interest in girls.

    Yeah, this. To me its very much a role playing and definitely nothing more serious than a badge to walk around with at school.

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Subscriber

    @concrete24 that sounds very familiar, my lad was diagnosed with dyslexia about three years ago. My wife spotted it. At first the primary school were pretty rubbish with him but we eventually got them pointing in the right direction.

    This time last year we had no idea how he was going to cope with SATS, then we got pointed in the direction of a specialist opticians after a depressing visit to the local one where the optician claimed there was nothing wrong with his eyes when I sat through the test and he couldn’t see anything.

    Anyway John P Glover in Romiley was amazing and we’ve ended up with vision therapy and glasses that are helping significantly, so much so he passed all his SATS.

    Unfortunately this hasn’t helped his anxiety which I suspect has come about from him masking his learning disabilities for so long. Like your son he has grafted to keep up, which means when things click he learns quickly. Verbal and Audio learning seems to go in quickly as well.

    If there is anything we can help you with shout out, as it appears there is no step by step guides available to fixing kids, we have just stumbled from one intervention to the next. The vision therapy has opened up differing avenues to explore including Moro reflexes. Probably spelt that wrong but I’m learning a lot about the human body and how it develops at the moment!

    @martinhutch thanks for the kind words, we know of a few families in I suspect similar positions, funny how I’ll open up here about but not in Real World…

    Edukator
    Member

    she has been bullied

    That’s the one to work on with the scool. And a non-smart phone for Christmas. As for moving school, for some kids it’s a second chance, for others they just gravitate towards the same profile of kids in the new school. What does she want?

    Edit, and home for lunch if you can organise that.

    Wow, i had no idea all this was going on either. Things have changed since my day.

    My OH is (or rather was) a secondary school teacher. She was so overworked and pressured for exam results (which in turn generates the schools funding) I got the impression there was very little time left to deal with these much more important issues, because ultimately solving them doesn’t generate money like exam results 🙁

    That’s the one to work on with the scool. And a non-smart phone for Christmas. As for moving school, for some kids it’s a second chance, for others they just gravitate towards the same profile of kids in the new school. What does she want?

    The bullying got stamped out with a couple of suspensions, but what worries me is that there will always be potential for this type of thing and I don’t want her to fall into the trap of thinking suicide/self harm is the best way to deal with it. A non smart phone will not happen. Its unfortunate but its just another reason to get picked on.
    She wants to stay in her current school, but while her wishes are important she doesn’t get final say I`m afraid.

    Lots of talk about moving schools which was my initial thought, but hey guess what mental health is everywhere even in “good” schools.

    If you’re not getting anywhere with the school then a quick call to ofsted and local education department should get things moving, definitely sounds like better support is needed in the school.

    Edukator
    Member

    You posted while I was editing so I’ll repeat, can you get her home for lunch? Peak real world bullying time is the lunch break. If she’s not there they’ll find other victims. Virtual bullying can take place at any time she has a phone. “Just another reason to get picked on” is nothing compared with the picking on that can be done with phones. I spent a week a year in a German secondary school, on the surface things couldn’t have been more civilised, under the surface there was a serious problem with cyber bullying which accounted for the vast majority of discipline problems. Teachers in France have breathed a sigh of relief now the damned things have been banned. Madame organised a trip recently, only three punishments all for phone violations with kids telling lies to parents, two parents were as unreasonable as their kids when the kids were dropped off.

    So Madame is a teacher,I’m an ex-teacher and junior didn’t have a phone until the sixth form, and walked home for lunch every day of his secondary schooling, accompanied by myself until 12.

    Activities out of school can help kids get a new peer group and some real friends, they then tend to look after each other in school.

    concrete24
    Member

    @twistedpencil
    Thanks for the insights and the support, (we’ve had too many evenings where we have run out of words and are only able to offer a hug in the end). We are getting some external help for the dyslexia now – we were put in touch with a really good local tutor for him who only tutors kids with dyslexia (she is an English teacher by profession and also the SENCO at another local school). She has taught him some good strategies for improving his reading (and writing) speed and accuracy and also helped by getting us to try various coloured filters\overlays (green works for him). She seems to have a really positive impact on his confidence above all else. He is scheduled for a full vision assessment at a specialist optician in the New Year. The school are quite good on this too – they allow a bit more time for tests and have him on a touch-typing course to prepare him for later years where he will be allowed to use a computer in some circumstances rather than writing in class, (his writing is beautiful by the way – just takes a long time over it).

    The anxiety is better since the school intervened on the bullying but it sure is a roller-coaster, never quite sure what I’ll be going home to!

    Anyway, don’t want to hijack the OP’s thread but thanks again for sharing your experience.

    OP good luck whatever you decide as a family on the school move; only you and yours really know what’s best for her ultimately – and you are clearly trying your hardest to do that.

    Anyway, don’t want to hijack the OP’s thread but thanks again for sharing your experience.

    Youre not hijacking, its as much a thread about mental health issues amongst kids in general as it is my own

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    How utterly awful and i hope you find a solution. I would almost certainly move school. Father of a 4 year old girl and 7 year old boy and social media/phone use terrifies me. Wishing you all the best.

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