No More Tragedies
You may have watched the tragic story of Alexandra Valoras, a high school junior. She was on track to attend a prestigious university, and appeared motivated and happy to her parents, teachers, and friends. Shockingly, Alexandra jumped to her death from an overpass near her home.
Beyond grief stricken, her parents, Alysia and Dean were also blindsided. They had seen no signs that their beautiful daughter was in pain. Alexandra wrote about her self-loathing, shame, and hopelessness in the pages of her diaries that she’d left for them to find. While alive she’d shared her desperation with no one..
We sympathize and mourn with Alysia and Dean, their children, and the far too many other families that grieve from the nightmare of suicide. As our hearts ache with theirs, we are more frightened than ever because suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year-old males and females in the U.S.
We’ve learned from Alexandra. We understand that behavior is based on what we believeto be true about ourselves. We know that neither success nor high achievement can be used to gauge emotional stability. And we accept that the quest for perfection is often littered with confusion and self-destruction.
It’s important that we create comfortable conversations with our children for them to express their emotions, both the joys and the disappointments. Our goal is to let them know that they are safe sharing every feeling and concern with us. We must embrace the reality that emotional struggles are real, but they don’t define the person. And we must lovingly accept and stand with our family members, friends, and their children who need and receive care.
We need to remind ourselves that we honor our children by listening to understand them. Listening requires that we stop doing and thinking so that we can give them our full attention. And, it means empathizing, not judging or fixing or telling our story. Listening is the gift we give that connects us to our children.
It is terribly complicated to be the parent of an adolescent, but even more perplexing being one. Be assured that by your love, faith, and wisdom you influence, inspire and empower your child. I believe in you and admire the relationship you nurture with your child every day.
Click here to learn more about Alexandra’s story and Alysia and Dan Valoras commitment to suicide prevention.