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Parents - Be Informed.
I couldn't have a page for the young people without including one for parents because actually, educating and informing parents and guardians of our youth about suicide and self esteem is just as important as reaching our youths. After all we are the ones who are supposed to mold them, protect them, and prepare them for the World, right?

Actually that IS correct. It's what our job is and what we signed on for when we brought them into this difficult world. It's hard, especially when both parents are working, or there is only one to play the role of both mother and father. BUT - we have to try. Molli showed no signs that she was even remotely contemplating suicide, but then how would I know? I knew absolutely nothing about it - certainly did not know that it's the 2nd leading killer of our young! All I knew was that it was an extremely selfish act with no regard for anyone. I definitely had a shock treatment that day in July of 2001. Molli had never demonstrated even the tiniest selfish trait - it just wasn't in her.

The problem is that Molli was a child and children normally don't have a concept of death, let alone how final it is. Those they leave behind comprehend it quickly and it's terrifying, even when you have a strong faith in God. Your arms are still empty that used to receive hugs, no more, "I love you more, Momma!" and even the "Can you take my friends and I to the Mall?" leaves the house and your heart ringing in deadly, unbearable silence that a parent never believes he or she will have to go through.

If you're asking yourself, "Could this ever happen to my child?" the answer is YES. What can you do? Here are some suggestions I have, along with making time to check out some of the resources I've listed.

If you've never prayed before, make some time to be alone and then find your comfort zone in how you pray. Many times I pray in the shower - it washes the tears away. Eyes shut or eyes open, on your knees or standing on your deck - it makes no difference to God. He just asks that you have a genuine heart and a righteous purpose. Then tell Him you've never prayed before and ask Him to help you gather your thoughts. Take a minute to stop and imagine losing your child. There isn't a more selfless purpose than praying for someone else.

Those of you who have prayed, intensify it. This world has become a fearful place. In Molli's last note that she left me she said, "I just can't take living in this awful world anymore. It's all about money and meanness." She's right, although I wish with all my heart she'd stayed around to change it instead of leaving it.

Pray with your family and ask God for strength and peace. Show your child or troubled loved one that God is the one they need to lean on for inner peace. If you're unsure what or how to pray, find a spiritual leader such as a local minister or youth pastor or even a Christian friend. You will be amazed at God's grace and the peace you will feel - especially knowing you're doing everything possible to create and maintain an emotional healthiness in your home. I've always had a strong faith, but I was weak on the follow-through and the role model, although my family disagrees with me. I won't ever get the chance to change that with Molli.

Read your Bible, even starting once or twice a week, and include your family so that discussions can start. God will work in your life and you'll find yourself reading something that "coincidently" applies to what you need to hear. I no longer believe in coincidence. To me it is just God's way of saying, "See - told you I was here!" What's important in our spiritual lives is, along with praying and reading scriptures, that we sharpen our senses to what God through the Holy Spirit, is trying to tell us or direct us to do.

I thought my faith was strong. Faith is always tested during rough times, especially after the loss of someone you love, but when Molli died I was so humbled at how God reached out to me. It was actually nearly overwhelming to feel His arms around me, comforting me by heightening my senses to what He was trying to show me. What He showed me was His grief at her choice and our pain, but also that He always brings something good out of something bad. We witnessed miracles happening everywhere - to Molli's friends, to families we barely knew or didn't know at all, to kids and adults who didn't know Molli but knew of her and brought flowers and hugs anyway and revealed how this had changed how they treat each other.

My prayers became a personal conversation instead of a ritualistic habit. I had no choice but to call on Christ for help when the guilt feelings haunted me. Without Him easing my mind, even temporarily, I couldn't have stood much more of it.

My daughter, Melissa, had her 23rd birthday twelve days after Molli died. She was living with us during this and had trouble sleeping, fearful of what the dark might bring. We held a surprise party for her, and as difficult as it was, I put away every card, flower - every sign of Molli's death, including her urn while Missy was out with a friend before her party. Friends and family members drove distances to ensure the Missy felt special, and she was so surprised! All went well until we brought in the candle-lit cake. Suddenly she remembered that Molli's smiling face was missing and began fighting back the tears. Not only was Molli missed, but Missy felt guilty at celebrating while she was grieving. That night, after forcing my emotions inside for Missy's sake and seeing family and friends whisk her away for awhile, I went outside on our deck - looked upward to the stars - and cried while talking with the Lord, which had become a regular thing but comforting. I was especially oppressed because birthdays have always been very special in our family, and I wanted so badly for a "normal, special" birthday for Missy. "Normal" for us died with Molli's choice. I knew the only one who could help was God - and Molli if He allowed her to. As I stood outside praying, my focus became directed toward Molli and in my stern "Mom" voice told her that I "expected" her to do something very special and loving for Missy to make up for ruining her birthday and causing her to be afraid of sleeping. I told her how empty Missy felt without her on her birthday.To be honest, it was the only time I ever felt angry at Molli for taking her life. The next morning Melissa woke up feeling peaceful and was smiling, "Mom, Molli came to me in my dreams last night - 3 times. I was scared at first, but she told me, "Missy, it's me, Molli, so don't be afraid." She proceeded to relate her visits with Molli which even had some humor as well but were mainly filled with love. Molli had listened to me, and God allowed her to visit Missy in her dreams. Since then, every time I've prayed for something special for one of my daughters to bring them reassurance or peace, either they've had a dream visit with Molli, or someone has touched them somehow.

Be watchful of what your child's emotional state is. It's not always easy nor evident. What the activities they participate in, what friends they have, what music they listen to the most and what they watch on television. Do they get on the Internet? Monitor how much time they spend online (especially on AOL and MySpace), who they're talking to and what about. Limit your child's Internet access and time. I didn't because Molli has always been so responsible, respectful, and never rebellious. However, I've since looked through her emails and have seen topics, including suicide, discussed almost casually - in the "Fwd" (Forwarded) emails, especially. Teenagers today bring up suicide like we used to bring up, "I think I'll run away from home." when I was in my teens. It's rampant, as is low self esteem. Now I'm not suggesting that you stand over your child so that they feel smothered, but take a serious interest. Don't wait until it's too late and you say, "If only I'd paid attention."

Be also watchful of their moods. Obviously what we think are "normal teenage moods" might not be normal. At any sign of depression, sleeping a lot, going off by themselves, consult help. Molli had always been quiet and off by herself at times so I thought it was "normal". It might have been possible that Molli had a unique type of depression and had had it for a long time without any of us knowing.

Talk--talk--talk to your child(ren). I can't stress this enough. Sometimes we, as adults, become so busy with our lives, never believing anything tragic could happen (except of course the "worst fear" times). We have good intentions of keeping communication open, and we follow-through with that especially when we're angry or upset with our kids. We buy insurance policies to protect us in case of an emergency don't we? Take out an insurance "love" policy on your children by talking to them now, if you haven't. Cover all bases by 1. telling them that you love them. 2. Explain to them the pain that you would feel if they weren't here. 3. Talk to them about the pressures that pre-teens and teenagers are exposed to, showing them that you understand. Give them options if they are ever feeling depressed. 4. Help them to picture their future by saying something like, "What would the "you" who is holding his newborn baby in his arms think of your decision at this age to end your life?" 5. Don't ever let them go out the door or go to sleep at night without hugging them and telling them how valuable they are. You never know when it might be the last time for either of you.

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