Helping kids struggling with suicide, bullying and depression takes focus at NAACP meeting

Suicide, along with bullying and depression, were heavy topics at Monday's NAACP meeting in Terre Haute.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 11:16 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 11:16 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Inside our classrooms are more than just students.

While some are living to achieve their dreams, others are living a nightmare.

"I'll see, just notice, some girls mostly lifting up their sleeves and have a whole bunch of cuts down their arms," said Neleigha Jones, "Some will be old, some will be new, but they're still there."

The sight is no surprise for Jones, who is turning 14 in October. Only in middle school, she said she knows other kids her age who have tried or talked about taking their own life.

"I almost cry sometimes, and I just start to shake because I just don't want to think about it personally," she said, "Because we're so young. You haven't even done anything in your life at all, so how would you already want to take your life away?"

Suicide, along with bullying and depression, were heavy topics at Monday's NAACP meeting in Terre Haute.

The group hosted a forum on how to address these issues among children. The panel included organizations such as FSA Counseling Center, Team of Mercy and the Terre Haute Police Department. 

Christina Crist, who runs Team of Mercy, lost her 15-year-old daughter to suicide five years ago.

"It totally changed me as a person, every aspect," said Crist, "I'm a different mom to our other daughter, Sophia. I'm a different friend today, I'm a different community member and that's a big one right there."

Through Team of Mercy, Crist and her team offer grief counseling and support to survivors of suicide and their families. Crist is also a certified instructor with Youth Mental Health First Aid, and Adult Mental Health First Aid, teaching signs and symptoms.

"We really do whatever the family needs, we meet them right there at their needs," she said, "Every family is different in their loss, whether it be financial support or whether it be just support one on one. Sometimes individuals just need to know that somebody else has experienced what they are experiencing and know what they are about to go through."

The conversation lasted nearly two hours Monday night. 

Throughout the dialogue, many said they believe the solution is in the household. That's as many feel the connection between parents or guardians, and their children are lost.

"Everybody has the right to their own privacy," said Crist, "but we need to keep in mind that our youth learned from us. If we show them how to live and the proper things to do, they can make better decisions."

"I believe that our youth these days lack problem-solving skills," Crist continued, "I believe that it is partially social media. I do not blame everything on social media, but I do think that is a part of it. We have kids that have a screen in front of them. If you ask them to have a one on one conversation, looking each other in the eye, it makes them feel uncomfortable. Why is that? It's because they're not used to doing it. They're used to having conversations with individuals on a screen, they can be whoever they want to be on that screen, but when you look somebody in the eyes and have proper communication there's magic there, something happens. It's different."

It's life lessons that people plan to take not only to their homes but in their classrooms.

"I learned that I need to have a real conversation with all of my friends and make sure that they are ok mentally and physically," said Jones, "Try to help them understand that things will get better and life is not as bad as you seem. You might be going through this right now and it might seem so big to you, but if you go up to somebody else it's just like this small little matter compared to what they're going through. Everybody is going through something."

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