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sailor.mnsun.com Excelsior • Shorewood Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 • Page 5 How to talk to your teens about suicide With the school year now offi cially underway, you’ve likely done every- thing you’ve done to set your teen up for a success- ful year. Purchased all their school supplies? Check. Kept them on track with their grades and activities? Check. Scheduled confer- ences with their teachers? Check. But there’s one more thing to add to your list: talking to your teen about suicide. So often in society, we talk about suicide only after a celebrity (like An- thony Bourdain or Kate Spade) dies. But the sui- cide rate, both nation- ally and in this state, has been increasing quietly and steadily for the last several decades. A 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the suicide rate in Minnesota jumped 40.6 percent over 18 years. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, for Lauren Abdill Guest columnist Lauren Abdill is a therapist at Relate Counseling Center in Minnetonka. every completed suicide, 25 people attempt it. Suicide is a real problem in our communities. One important way to reverse this devastating trend is simply to talk about it – and to start conversations about it with our young people. The beginning of the school year is a great time to talk about suicide with your teens and, in doing so, normalize this scary topic. By being pro- active, communities can help prevent future sui- cides from ever occurring. know your teen isn’t too stressed or overwhelmed. For example, the morning of their fi rst test of the school year might not be the best option. Instead, try to select a time when you know you’ll have at least 15 to 30 minutes alone togeth- er, like after you’ve picked them up from a sporting practice and you’re on your way home. Begin by saying something like, “I’d like to talk to you about an important topic, sui- cide, because I want you to feel prepared if you or a friend are ever having those thoughts.” Ask what they know/ think about suicide Suicide is a complex and diffi cult topic to dis- cuss. Begin by asking them what they know about this issue. What do people at How to start school or on social me- the conversation dia say about suicide? Do Pick a time when you they like the song “800- 273-TALK” by the singer Logic? What was their reaction when Spade and Bourdain recently died by suicide? Share with them some of your own thoughts too. For exam- ple, “The death of Kate Spade really showed me that just because some- one’s life looks perfect on the outside, that doesn’t mean they can’t still strug- gle on the inside.” Review the warning signs of suicide Briefl y review with them some of the warning signs of suicide: talking about wanting to die or kill one- self, feeling hopeless or talking about having no purpose, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing or feeling isolated, or act- ing depressed, agitated or reckless. Encourage your teen to keep an eye out for these warning signs in either themselves or a friend and to reach out for help im- mediately – either to you or another adult – if they notice them. Ask them to save crisis line contact information in their phones It’s a great idea to have your teen save the contact info for crisis hotlines in their phones. Hopefully, they’ll never need it (ei- ther for themselves or a friend). But just in case they do, they’ll always have it nearby. To start a text conversation with a crisis counselor, your teen can text MN to 741-741. Or to speak with a crisis counselor on the phone, your teen can call 1-800- 273-TALK. Remind them that you’re always here to talk Close the conversation by asking your teen if they have any more ques- tions they want to ask or thoughts they want Crisis hotlines • In an emergency, call 911 or have someone take you directly to your local emergency room • Acute Psychiatric Services: 612-873-3161 • Carver/Scott County Mobile Crisis Services: 952-442-7601 • Hennepin County Mo- bile Crisis Services for Children: 612-348-2233 • Suicide Hotline: 612- 873-2222 (local), 1-800- 273-8255 (national) to share. Then, remind them that you are always here to talk and that help is always available. Make sure they know that, even though suicide is still a taboo subject in society, it isn’t a taboo subject in your household. Thank them for talking with you and feel proud that you’ve been proactive in address- ing suicide with your teen- ager. Setting goals is vital for senior citizens I’m a great believer in the power of goal setting. Having specifi c objectives to strive for can motivate and challenge us and add purpose to our lives. Goals pull us into the future. They give us di- rection and a destination and show us how to get there. Without goals, we just let life happen. And when that happens, not much happens. As a wise friend once told me, “It’s very ap- propriate that the word “goal” begins with the letters g and o, because having goals puts the “go” back into our lives.” It’s unfortunate that many people think goal setting is only for young people. They’re wrong. White CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 help the roots get estab- lished. Once spring comes around, the roots will continue to grow as soon as the ground thaws, giv- ing the plants a head start on any spring transplants. The cooler weather doesn’t have to stop you from getting out and add- Bob Ramsey Guest columnist Bob Ramsey is a lifelong educator, freelance writer and advocate for Vital Aging. He can be contacted at 952-922-9558. Actually, older adults (especially retirees) need goals more than anyone. In the earlier years of life, external expectations and requirements set many of our goals for us. In later life, society im- poses few expectations or requirements. We have to create our own. That’s why space travel- ing beauty and function to your yard. We hope you have fun adding some new plants to your garden that will support pollina- tors while also improv- ing water quality. Learn more on our website at minnehahacreek.org, and we hope you’ll share pho- tos of your new plants with us on Instagram (@ minnehahacreekwd) or Facebook (@minneha- hacreek). er/lawmaker John Glenn said, “Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams.” The truth is that it’s never too late to discover new interests or aim at new targets. Un- less you’re on your death- bed, you’re never too old to pursue one more new, interesting, challenging or crazy idea. Meaningful goals come in various sizes and shapes. Some are narrow- ly focused. For example, one of my pancake pals Ken Bom’s recent goals was to play golf on his 90th birthday. (By the way, he did it.) Other goals may be more ambitious and far-ranging, such as the long-term goal of a re- tired Minnesota teacher who set out to play every public golf course in the state. (He eventually did it.) Most goals are simply commitments (promises to yourself) to see, visit, learn, try, do, build or create something new or different. But they can also be improving, polishing, or perfecting existing skills or knowledge. Goals may be serious, signifi cant or, even, silly. Goals don’t have to be huge. Small goals are fi ne as long as they challenge, inspire or motivate you. You only have to please or satisfy yourself. Some seniors shy away from setting goals be- cause it sounds too for- mal or technical. It doesn’t have to be. It helps to remember that most of us already in- corporate some form of goal setting into our daily lives. Think “bucket list” or New Year’s resolutions. Of course, most of us easily shed these loose- fi tting goals, because they’re not realistic and/ or they’re not accompa- nied by any action plan. To signifi cantly impact your encore years, goals have to “stretch” you in some way. They should be achievable with effort. If they’re too easy, they’re really not goals at all. They’re just things that would probably happen anyway. The best goals are written, simple, clear, fo- cused, time-specifi c and measurable. It’s not a goal if you can’t tell when you’ve achieved it. For retired seniors and other older adults, goal setting can be a game- changer. It gives you a modicum of control over your later years. Meeting worthwhile goals is another key to vital aging. And it’s fun. That’s why I agree with legendary football coach Lou Holtz who summed it up this way, “If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morn- ing with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.”