In the news recently there have been two women, both beauty queens, who have tragically died by suicide. Zoe Sozo Bethel ,27 and Chelsie Kryst, 30 took their own lives. Zoe was Miss Alabama 2021 for America Strong and Chelsie, Miss USA 2019. Zoe was a model and political correspondent and Chelsey a fashion blogger, lawyer, and correspondent for Extra TV.
Both Zoe and Chelsie accomplished, smart, and beautiful. Each one’s Instagram feed shows a perfect life. Both women had so much to live for and to look forward to. Both appeared to have a faith.
How could they have been so depressed and hopeless?
These deaths are shocking. Both Zoe and Chelsie have families and friends reeling from horrific news. How can it be?
So what does this tells us as parents?
Depression is on the rise. Unchecked and untreated depression can lead to suicide. According to the CDC from August 2020- February 2021 the percent of adults with anxiety or depression has increased for 36.4% to 41.5%. The increases are highest in young adults ages 18-29 years-old. And here is the thing, depression is treatable!
This breaks our collective hearts. As moms, as parents, we cannot imagine our precious child taking his or her own life. We are afraid to talk about this. We must talk. We must act. We must do something.
Our kids need help. Our kids need hope.
Our kids need to know there is no shame in getting help. Getting help is smart and brave.
Jesus tells it like it is in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world.”
How prepared are our kids for life in a world that is filled with trouble? God is good AND life is hard. Our kids must be equipped and ready to deal with sad, scary, or anger inducing things. Resiliency and hope are called for when life’s expectations are not met.
So what can we do to prepare our children for life’s bumps?
Here are 10 simple things we can do to increase resiliency, satisfaction, and happiness:
- Encourage healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise habits.
- Weave downtime into your children’s day.
- Avoid rescuing them from failure. Allow them to fail so they can develop some problem solving skills.
- Delay gratification. Let them wait or struggle a little.
- Appreciate their natural abilities and talents.
- Encourage them to attempt something that does not come easily.
- Show appreciation and train them to be appreciative.
- Participate in activities that increase dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin like: exercising, petting your dog, getting a massage, connecting with friends, getting some sunshine, eating dark chocolate, laughing.
- Reduce time on social media.
- Train them to specifically name their feelings so those feelings can be categorized in their brain and the brain will be more ready to move to problem solving mode. (rather than “I’m mad.” be more descriptive, “I feel frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, etc.)
These 10 items are just a start. They can help our kiddos build those perseverance muscles and gain some tools for living life in a hard world. In Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety Depression or Suicidal Ideation you can find over 125 ways to help your kids embrace hope.
Currently suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young people in the U.S. (in some states it takes the number 1 position). I don’t pretend to know what would have helped either Zoe or Chelsie. It appears they wore their happy mask successfully and didn’t let others in on their pain. Their deaths are tragic reminders that no one, not even the successful, beautiful, wealthy, or powerful people are immune to mental health issues. A seemingly successful life on the outside does not mean there are not struggles and suffering on the inside.
Our kiddos need to know that life’s hardships and heartaches are temporary. They can get through hard times. It is OK not to be OK. And they are not alone in their pain. God is with them and we- mom and dad- are with them.
If you are concerned about your child having suicidal thoughts please get help. Meet with your family doctor and talk with a mental health professional. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Thanks to Pro Church Media on Unsplash for the image.
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.