This is not a poem.
Sorry to disappoint anyone who really enjoys my poorly written poetry.
I want to tell you a story, as well as give you my personal and professional stance on things of this nature, a PSA, if you will.
Last night around 8:43pm I received a frantic call from my fourteen year old daughter who had much concern in her voice as she told me about a text (via Facebook messenger app) that she’d received from her friend that read, “I just tried to kill myself”.
At the time I was seventeen minutes away from clocking out of work and an hour’s drive away from home where my daughter was staying the night at a friend’s house and there was no way for me to (physically) be there with her. My daughter went on to inform me that she was very worried and offered me some background information on what the girl had found out about her mother’s recent extramarital affair, and because she then could not get ahold of her friend, she asked me if I could call the girl’s mom. There are many reasons I took this call seriously; 1). Death is final, there is no making up for it tomorrow, fixing it the next day, or correcting the mistake 2). I have worked in the mental health field as s Family Educator and Youth -at-Risk Advocate for almost 16 years, I’ve been volunteering with “At-Risk” youth since I was 17 years old. I take suicide very seriously, I take mental health serious, I take happiness seriously, I take death and dying seriously and most importantly I take the well-being of children, very seriously 3). Suicide, based out of hopeless due to depression or any other temporary and fixable situation, especially with children and it is something I cannot professionally and legally ignore. 4). When my daughter calls me and says, “I need your help”, I am going to help my child.
(that link up top might not work, but it goes to the Illinois Department of Family Services Mandated Reporter information page. On this page is a list of persons and people who must report certain behaviors towards children out of legal and ethical obligations, which are typically part of schooling, career paths, etc.)
I attempted to call the mother’s phone number and she did not pick up any of the times that I called, and I called several times. Due to the possible time sensitivity of this very serious threat, I chose to call the non-emergency police number in my town to see if a police officer would be willing to do a Well-Child Check at the family’s residence. I made this decision based off my professional judgment and due to the background information my child told me about this girl’s family problems, which leads me to this…
If you’re exposing your child to anything that would harm them to the point they feel as if suicide is an option as opposed to seeking help from you, then you need to take a look at what you’re doing and possibly have some help with your parental skills. And I’m not sure where we have decided, as a society, that there is standard in we have to know it all and we cannot ask for help. I was very disappointed to see that this young woman felt so desperate and unheard by her own family that she would turn to death as an answer. I was furious with the fact that my fourteen year old daughter was exposed to the things this other child was telling me that her mother has been doing. I won’t tolerate that type of behavior toward my child or any child. I calmed Alex down, called the police, left work, and waited to find out what happened with this young woman.
As it turned out, the suicide attempt was written off as “crying wolf”, and the police officer called me back from dispatch to say all was well, then my daughter called a back to say the girl was still messaging her and her friend was now part of it. I called the girl’s parents and asked them if everything was okay, the mother was obviously very curt with me. I let the mother know that I would like her child to stop contacting my child and informed her of (here’s the rest of the “background” story) the allegations that these kids were stating about her having a sexual affair, sharing sexting stories, nudes of the “other man”, walking in on her mom masturbating, and other very detailed worries, woes, and events that would put the girl and her younger siblings in dangerous situations. The mother was livid and yelled at me for “getting into her business” and I threatened to call DCFS and report the behavior, which I did do. If you’re wondering if you are allowed to share sex stories, nude photos, or explicit content with a child; the answer is no, that is illegal to expose young children to sexually graphic material.
The other and I got into a bit of a yelling match and the police officer who was there and on speaker phone tried to intervene, which did not work or he would have known the girl was still contacting my daughter about taking a bottle of pills and cutting her wrists. The police officer then called me from his phone and I had a few words for him, which included: I am asserting rights, don’t call my phone again, we can talk in person with a lawyer, and several other phrases before I hung up on him. I also let him know that I wanted all communication with my daughter and their child to end. He asked me not to call their home again and tried to update me on the girl’s status, that “she is fine”, to which I replied that the girl was STILL sending my daughter messages. I then recommended that my child report to Facebook’s team so that the messages would stop, or simply block her, and block her phone number (which most smart phones allow).
I’m not telling this story to come across as a perfect parent, or because I feel I’m holier than thou, and my child is too good for “problems”. If you’ve read anything I’ve shared here you know I have seen some darkness and been a very immoral person at various points of my life. I’ve been a parent who has had to ask for help, my child has been to court due to her own poor decisions, and I took that as a sign that I was not listening and she needed my help. I wanted to tell this story and I have included all sortsa links so that people know where my family and I stand on children’s welfare, what is okay and tolerable, and what we will not stand for. If you’re harming a child, we will stop you or help someone stop you from hurting children. If your child is turning to suicide, we will find help for you or tell you about. And I hope to God that any and all of my friends would do the same for my babies. If you think this is mean or harsh then you’re not getting it. We complain about police killing our kids point fingers at society, blame music and movies, games and entertainers, but we forget we are our children’s most important teachers, protectors, providers, and their BIGGEST FANS. We have control over the village who helps raise them. They need us to listen, to hear them, and be the answer when they have a question. And if we cannot be the help they need then REACH OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY, friends, family, social services, non-profits, churches, counselors, the school teachers. Find some help, man. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to accept help. We’re all in this shit together, we just need to act like it. It’s for the kids. It’s all for the kids.
I’m sorry that my daughter lost a friend.
I’m sorry that I was not able to better control my own emotions so that I could better communicate with the other mother.
I’m sorry that a child felt so hopeless and unheard that she felt like “crying wolf” or attempting suicide was a viable option to solve her family’s secret problems.