I read an article chiefly written by the mother of a young man who took his own life. It was a stark, horrifying reminder of how precious, and fragile life is.
One of the things that I discuss a lot in this blog is resilience. This can best be described as someone’s ability to bounce back after something negative has happened.
As grandparents we should be taking extra steps to help our grandchildren develop this valuable skill.
Grieving mum recalls her son’s life 12 months on
The article appeared on the ABC, Grieving Mum Warns of Suicide Risk from Social Media, and is a thorough account of Zach’s life before and after his premature death.
We might assume from what we read about Zach’s life that he had it all. He was doing an apprenticeship, had his own car, and was loved by his family and his girlfriend.
However, Zach was never one for details and had ignored fines he had accumulated while driving.
Even though his mother had helped him work out a repayment plan with the courts, it seemed to trigger something so deep within him that lead him to take his own life.
Is social media to blame?
Zach’s mother, Kate McLoughlin, doesn’t blame social media wholly. She knows there are so many other factors involved.
However, she points to the need for immediate gratification that being on social media brings. She discusses how being ‘liked’ on social media sites is instant, and has eroded young people’s resilience.
She rightly calls social media a façade and discusses how it aggravates our already vulnerable youth.
She states, “They’re expected to be successful, they’re expected to look a certain way, they’re expected to have certain things and they put far too much pressure on themselves to achieve that at a really early age.”
And, “…the core of who they really are seems to disappear in all of that, in the façade.”
What can grandparents do?
A big part of being resilient is being accountable to someone else. As grandparents we should be building relationships with our grandchildren from the day they are born.
Good, strong relationships don’t just happen, they take effort and time.
There were no warning signs in Zach’s case, so we need to take look deeper at the way our grandchildren are behaving.
When things aren’t going well look to see how your grandchildren react and cope. Are there any signs that they aren’t bouncing back and moving on?
No one can fully understand what it means to lose a life to suicide, but sadly more and more families are experiencing this as it becomes a shocking reality.
I don’t have the answers, but I would implore you to think about ways you can help your own family as you read Zach’s mother’s words:
“It’s hard to walk into a cemetery and find somewhere to put your baby.”