How to Talk to Kids about Depression, Substance Abuse and Suicide

Listen to this podcast here.

This podcast focuses on how to talk to kids about depression, substance misuse, and suicide from my perspective as a mother whose child died by suicide in 2015. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 and 34-year-olds, only behind the unintentional injury, in the United States. Much of suicide has a correlation with depression and substance misuse—and while there is an epidemic of teen depression and suicide, only 45% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys who have experienced an episode of depression got treatment in 2019. It’s time to start … Read more...

A suicide attempt survivor speaks out

by Jeff Watts

Jeff and his kids

My name is Jeff Watts. I am a husband, dad, teacher, co-founder of an orphan ministry, diagnosed with a mental illness, a four-time psych hospital patient, and a suicide attempt survivor.

I’ll start the part of my story having left home with an associate of arts degree in psychology from a community college. I wanted to be a counselor. I went to an out of state university and lived in an apartment on my own away from the support of my parents for the first time.

I also left the support I had … Read more...

10 Things You Should Know About Suicide

10 things about suicide

The lack of early intervention and continuity of mental health care for our youth in Virginia is tragic. Our state ranks at 47 for treatment of childhood major depression–the leading risk factor for suicide. That means 7 out of 10 kids most at risk for dropping out of school, ending up in prison or dying by suicide don’t get the help they need.

My family lived that statistic. My son died from it. After years of struggle with depression and addiction, the funniest and most popular kid in school killed himself–my 20-year-old son Charles.

Mental illness is treatable. Suicide is … Read more...

What are ‘deaths of despair?’

The diseases of despair are deaths by suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis.

Mortality from deaths of despair far surpasses anything seen in America since the dawn of the twentieth century. (The trend for middle-aged whites reveals a more dramatic rise but only goes back continuously to 1959.) The recent increase has primarily been driven by an unprecedented epidemic of drug overdoses, but even excluding those deaths, the combined mortality rate from suicides and alcohol-related deaths is higher than at any point in more than 100 years. Suicides have not been so common since 1938, and Read more...

I feel guilty for passing my mental illness to my son

by Gor Rivenshield

I’m 58 and I’ve attempted eight times, nine if you count the train incident, over a period from 1978 to 2011. So, yeah, I’ve struggled with depression and lost at times. Three of those attempts, and the train incident, occurred while taking prescribed psychiatric meds.

I’ve been on just about every anti-depressant, plus meds to counteract (unsuccessfully) the negative effects of the anti-depressants. I’m talking about two to four months of waiting for any, ANY, positive effects. The last psychiatrist just looked at me after we went through the list of meds I’d been on and sighed. … Read more...

Spotty postings over the holidays

I have posted every day here for almost four years. And this 2019 holiday season, I’m going on a vacation and posts might be a bit spotty.

You will hear from me but I might miss a day here and there. Just letting you know what to expect so you don’t think I’m in intensive care somewhere.

Read more...

Zero Hour Radio show with Dave, Ginger and Anne Moss

Anne Moss Rogers, Ginger Germani, Dave Matthews and our WRIR Zero Hour host, Tim Bowring

58 minutes

Posted on SoundCloud (Charles’ account, actually). I suppose I should get my own account.

On a segment of WRIR Zero Hour, three parents who’ve lost a child to suicide talk about their grief after that event, what they want all of you to know, and how they’ve managed to move forward and process this loss years after the fact. The segment is about an hour. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34-year-olds in the United States.

Dave Matthews and … Read more...

Mental health speaker for schools

And questions from Cosby high school health students answered.

For college and high school mental health and suicide prevention presentations, I start by telling the story of my youngest son, Charles, who suffered from depression, then addiction and died by suicide.

So the first one-third is my story

How did it all happen? What was he like? Why did he default to drug use? I talk about the cultural differences between my generation and theirs acknowledging the amount of content that comes at them daily.

Next one-third is how our family coped with the grief

I talk … Read more...

How do parents who’ve lost a child survive?

Most will say, “I couldn’t survive that.” Or, “I would never be able to move forward again.”

At first, none of us knows how we are going to survive. When people found out my Charles died by suicide, faces reflected horror which is similar to my own reaction to the news.

Facing what was an uncertain future fueled my terror. And the simplest activity such as taking a shower would take every ounce of energy I had for the day.

I had to go to work, write an obituary, go to the pharmacy, decide what to do with the ashes, … Read more...