Exposure to suicide and depression from the media can be explained

By Megan Mosquera

Communication is extremely important in understanding depression. It’s a sentiment that is very difficult to understand for most people, parents included.  Because of this, a workshop series was created in order to provide resources to parents who are in need of a way to connect with their children.

“The workshop series are for parents and any caregiver, so that they have strategies and tools to be able to deal with behavioral problems, if they need to talk about depression, suicide or how to support their kids with anxiety and fears,” said. Rosanna Castro, Senior Account Manager at FIU’s Center for Children and Families. “Just general information about addressing difficult topics for caregivers with initial resources and if they need more support then we are able to help provide that for them.”

Parents answer each others questions, speak about their experiences openly, and support one another in coming to better understand their children. While each question is carefully answered, everyone takes notes together because everyone is only trying to better educate and help their child.

“The Center of Childrens and Families started the parenting workshops as a way to help parents deal with these difficult topics because we know that being a parent is not easy and it’s the one thing nobody ever gives you any education about. We wanted to launch a series of free workshops to help parents address some of these common challenges,” said Castro.

This workshop specifically covered suicide and its prevention. A lot of information was provided so that giving parents the tools to aid children the comprehension they need, would be easier.

“It’s a topic that does not receive as much attention as it should and one that I think is because its difficult to navigate for parents,” said Carlos Yaguez, speaker at the workshop and member of the Child Anxiety and Phobia Program at the University.

The beginning of the presentation defined major depression disorder as an illness with constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It also categorized suicidal thoughts into those who feel it, plan it and attempt it.

To better visualize, examples of behaviors were given in association, such as sleeping too much or too little. It was stressed that a common stereotype of children with depression is that they will be sad, however in actuality it is very likely for them to engage in other outlets to express their pain.

Many will show anger or a strong irritability instead of sadness because they lack control of their emotions or are trying to bring attention to their frustration.

After, approaches were provided on how to become involved with children’s awareness and surrounding environment. The media has become inescapable and as such it is important to be aware of the influence it creates. “13 Reasons Why” for example, is a popular show on Netflix that negatively depicts suicide and contains very little semblance of a positive message.

That said, Yaguez stressed that talking about suicide does not put ideas into children’s heads. There is no evidence stating that breaching the matter will create a difference in their behavior. In fact, many studies have proven that speaking on the subject only decreases the distress they feel.

The goal of the workshop series is to provide resources for parent to help their kids. Exposure to peers, media and other outlets influences them and it is important to become a part of the conversation.

“I’m a mom, and for me, in the day to day, I deal with a lot of difficulties of being a parent like their behaviors or having to deal with social media,” Castro said. “It’s just addressing different things and nobody really tells you how to do certain things. We wanted on our end to provide the appropriate resources that’s backed by science to help parents the best way possible.”

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