A Powerful Message For Teens Who Have Lost All Hope: If You Only Knew
In 2018, our friend Rebekah DeWitt wrote an article for our blog to encourage teens who feel like they have lost all hope. Moved by the tragic loss of 9 teens in her community, Rebekah had a powerful message she felt teens needed to hear.
At that time, more than one of every eight Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 experienced a major depressive episode according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Today, teens are faced with new challenges, as a result of a global pandemic and the isolation as a result of mandated social distancing. This has caused anxiety and depression to rise sharply, especially among teens.
Almost 11 percent of Americans reported that they had “seriously considered” suicide in the past 30 days according to a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. But for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 the incidence of suicidal thoughts was 25% - meaning in every group of four adults, one person is affected by suicidal thoughts.
When You Feel Like You’ve Lost All Hope
If you are struggling and feel like you’ve lost all hope, regardless of how bad your current situation seems, you should know that there is hope and there is help.
Life is full of ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns. And sometimes it’s impossible to navigate those changes on your own.
You might be surprised to know that the strongest, most successful people in this world rely on other experts to help them get through tough times and achieve their goals.
Sometimes this help comes in the form of a conversation with a trusted friend. Other times it’s finding someone with more experience to mentor you. And sometimes it requires the help of a trained professional with the skills and expertise to get to the root of the problem and help you solve it.
Although it takes courage to reach out and ask for help, it’s the best and fastest way to feel better.
If you don’t know where to turn for help, SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) is a free service that offers information and referrals. It is confidential and available 24/7, 365 days a year.
10 Ways To Help Someone You Know Who Is Struggling With Anxiety or Depression
If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression here are 10 things you can do to make a positive difference:
- Listen without judging.
- Encourage them to get professional help.
- Offer to help prepare a list of questions and symptoms to discuss with their healthcare provider.
- Help them create a low-stress environment by preparing meals ahead for them that they can just warm up, or help with everyday tasks like laundry or a project they find too overwhelming to do alone.
- Continue to invite them to participate in activities with you and reassure them there’s no pressure, even if they may not keep the plans when they don’t feel up to it.
- Be patient. Successful treatment often takes time.
- Remind them of the things you like about them and how much they mean to you and others.
- Learn about anxiety and depression so, instead of taking their behavior personally, you can know what to do to help. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), American Psychiatric Association, and Centers for Disease Control are great resources to consider.
- Take time for self-care to recharge yourself.
- Know the warning signs for suicide and who to call for help.
Here’s the original article by Rebecca DeWitt.
If You Only Knew
by Rebekah DeWitt
Dear Sweet One,
Do you see the crowds forming? Do you see the massive line of souls growing just to pass by your casket? To whisper their final “I love yous” and “I miss yous”? Do you see that friend from middle school that you used to share secrets with? Do you see the neighbor boy who had always looked up to you?
Look closer. Do you see the pain in their eyes? The regret. The shock. Do you see the tears fall? Do you hear the sobs grow louder?
Oh, sweet one, how did you not know you would be missed? How did you not know you were so very loved?
So wanted. So needed.
Listen to me. You are NOT alone.
4 simple words. But their truth holds the key for so many struggling to grasp onto life for just one more day. One more moment.
Since this past August, life was just too much to bare for 9 dear teenagers in my county. 9 siblings. 9 best friends. 9 children. Needless to say, it’s been a heartrending time for our entire community. We must come together and reach those who feel like they are absolutely alone.
“The worst crying is when you’re lying in bed, with your hand over your mouth so you don’t make noise. The tears are running onto your pillow and your heart’s breaking and you’re thinking of everything that made you cry, and your other hand is on your heart or stomach because they both hurt.” (1)
Have you ever been there? I have. When you feel like no one understands you or even cares to try. It’s the emptiest feeling on this earth.
You may think it will never happen to one of your friends or family, but the sad truth is, it can happen to any child, at any time, from any family.
17% of high school students have thought about suicide. 8% have tried. To give that some perspective, in every classroom of 25 students, 2 will try to commit suicide. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death from the ages of 10-24. (2)
And although you may think those contemplating suicide would give warning signs, NOT all do.
Regardless, some warning signs to watch for are: if a person has been through a traumatic experience, suffered a form of mental illness, has been bullied, has dealt with relationship problems, has increased drug or alcohol use, or suffers from chronic pain. They may lose interest in things they previously enjoyed. They may start talking or writing about suicide. They may even start giving away personal belongings. They may withdraw from loved ones or activities, and experience major eating or sleeping changes.
If you are hurting to the core and have been struggling with any of these warning signs, there is HOPE. There is always HOPE. There is always a rainbow after the storm. There is always a hand to reach for and hold. Please, please do NOT hesitate to cry out for HELP.
Crying out for help can simply mean talking about it. Talk to your best friend, your parent, your teacher, your neighbor, anyone!
Ask for help from guidance counselors, medical doctors, pastors. You can also anonymously text 4hope to 741741. Or dial 1-800-273-TALK to be connected to someone ready and willing to listen.
We all just want to connect. We all need to be needed. We all need to know we are not alone.
Dear Sweet One,
You were NEVER alone.
About the Author: Rebekah DeWitt is grateful to have met the love of her life at the young age of 15. Together, she and her husband Brian have crossed many things off their bucket lists like skydiving and getting a porch swing. But the greatest was the birth of their two children, Brayden (4) and Isla (2). They reside in Canton, Ohio. Rebekah had the privilege of having her first book published in 2007. Geared for teen girls, it is called Holding His Hand: A Devotional for Teen Girls. Rebekah volunteers at the Make a Wish Foundation and her local church. She loves being a consultant for Rodan +Fields. In her leisure time, Rebekah loves making memories with her family, seeing the world, reading, and chick flicks.
2 : Statistics and Warning signs taken from the Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery website