Suicide: Procedures that May Help Parents Stop It!

Suicide: Procedures that May Help Parents Stop It!

Series I

 

 Maya's ArtOn November 30, 2014, my birthday to be exact, I received the devastating news of a young cousin who took his own life – Yes, Suicide. This young cousin was only 22 years old.

 

The news of this tragedy has made our family realize the importance of taking notice, reaching out and taking the extra time with youngsters in our family. My goal is to also help you avoid a tragedy such as this one.

 

It has hit me that perhaps it would be a great idea to post series of helpful tactics and strategies that might just help families (especially parents) avoid what my family and I are currently experiencing (insurmountable sadness), so I’m offering a few blog series on this very topic – SUICIDE PREVENTION.

 

I’ll begin this series with a set of PROCEDURES

 

The first thing a parent would want to do is, of course, protect the student.  If parents are aware that a child is talking about suicide, they must contact a mental health professional, especially if the child is showing signs of suicidal tendencies or behaviors, or using threatening remarks.

 

  • Parents should closely monitor and supervise the child until he/she can actually go to, or meet with the mental health professional.

 

  • Parents will want to remain calm as they speak to their child about what’s troubling them.

 

  • Parents will want to contact the school (teachers, counselors, administrators) in an effort to seek/gather more information about their child. Ask questions such as:

 

                                 Description of their child’s behaviors                                 

                                 Were there any changes in the child’s behavior?

                                 Any talk of suicide comments, gestures, or acts?

 

  • Parents should also be aware of anything they’ve notice about their child and jot these notes down. This includes behaviors at home, around others (family members: cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents).

 

  • Does the child have close friends? If so, find out if the other child’s parents would mind if you talked to their child in an attempt to determine what they noticed, or have been told.

 

  • Parents will want to think about family changes such as stressors (new marriages, divorces, financial difficulties – just to name a few).

 

  • Parents will want to reexamine health and mental health history of their child, if any.

 

  • Parents will want to speak to mental health professional and outline  levels of response plan

 

Note: These procedures are outlined for parents, but can be tailored for school officials or anyone needing this information. There are so many variables to consider and a number of actions that can be considered.

 

Photo Complimentary of Maya Steamer:

 

Maya is a 9th grade student at Victory Early College. Her art piece is titled: “It Hurts”  Maya says this: “My art is of a girl who gets bullied and talked about. She has recently been beaten up and wants to spread awareness about bullying. It hurts!” 

 

Maya submitted her art work to represent Crime Stoppers in the Community. She is one of the 2014 Art Contest Winners: Maya’s work was completed beautifully with oil pastels, and will be displayed at Crime Stoppers.

 

Carving Off the Excess Baggage

Carving Off the Excess Baggage

As we journey through life, we meet several people who we feel match our personalities. We believe we have things in common, whether it’s our children, recreational events, socio-economic statuses, or you can fill in the blank, so the relationship starts out great. As time moves on however, we learn we are exact opposites, and/or perhaps do not enjoy each other’s company as previously thought (or hoped).

 

If we find ourselves in situations like the one explained, it’s okay to let go and move on. We do not have to load ourselves down with negative baggage that doesn’t help us improve our lives, or remain in relationships that tear up down mentally and physically.

 

Let me share three examples with you:

 

Example 1: I had a friend who constantly took over the conversation. She was a non-stop chatter box who knew everything (actually she is highly intelligent), and often wanted to give advice (who doesn’t like receiving advice?), but the problem is she lacked the skill of listening, and constantly said, “You should do this…, or have you thought about doing this…? I mean, I don’t mind an occasional word of advice, but each and every conversation no matter what the topic at-hand was she did this.

 

This acquaintance appeared to be highly skilled at not letting me in on our conversations. She actually said, “Ummm” to tie her words over when thoughts escaped her, so I sat most of the time not being able to comment on the topic, and this led to me constantly forgetting any thoughts I felt needing to be interjected. This girl totally monopolized the entire conversation.  No kidding.

 

Example 2: There were other times she’d begin a conversation like this, “You may not realize this …” or “You may not have heard of this before, but….”

 

One time I couldn’t take it any longer and finally asked her if she realized this habit. I told her in a kind way that doing this wasn’t kosher and it sounds as if she doesn’t believe anyone else realizes or could have experienced all the wonderful things she’s experienced in her life.

 

Well, her actions really “got on my nerves” so finally I spoke up and said, “You know, it takes two people sharing in a conversation. If I’m just listening to you, this really isn’t a conversation, but one-sided talk.” Of course she disagreed with me, but I can tell you that I actually clocked her one time.

 

Example 3: Whenever I tried to interject, or get my thoughts into the conversation, this acquaintance begin to speak loudly and drown my voice out.

 

Example 4: Another annoying habit my friend had was calling my cell phone leaving a message, but talking until the phone timed out, or beeped. Yes, she used up all the playing time leaving long, drawn-out and detailed messages. I can see this happening on occasion, but she did this every single time I wasn’t able to take the call. Do you know the type?

 

What I surmised after speaking to this acquaintance each time was a nagging headache. She was always right and always had to offer me ways to do things differently or what she felt was a much better way of handling things.

 

This is how I chose to handle the situation:

 

I believe it is not only fair, but right to share your thoughts and feelings about problematic issues with your friend(s). Sharing will either make, or break the relationship, and TRUE friends share the good and bad, right?

 

The sad part is this, my friend wasn’t willing to listen and/or make changes for the betterment of our continued friendship, so I did what I needed to do for ME. I ended our friendship on this level. She may be better as an occasional acquaintance then a close friend.

 

I must admit, I have never had to end a friendship in this manner. It was very uncomfortable, but very much needed and a long time coming, since I dealt with this for over 4.5 years.

 

It’s okay to move on. If someone in your inner circle is constantly negative or annoying and you’re left feeling stressed out with a headache after talking to them, it can’t be a healthy relationship for either of you.

 

Have you experienced similar situations? If so, how did you handle it?

 

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

by Cherry Vasquez, Ph.D.

 Kelly Vasquez 2

Approximately seven years ago, I was engaged in, what I thought was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my work. As mothers, we often talked about daily activities our children were engaged in. Our conversations were personal, easy stress relievers, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.

 

When I ended my “story for the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well, she’s going to have psychological problems anyway.”

 

I looked at her, startled, and asked what she meant by that. “Well, she’s biracial,” she continued,” and all biracial children end up with psychological problems.”

 

This woman was the first person who’d ever made such an asinine statement to me, but unfortunately not the last. What she claimed never crossed my mind. Why would it?

 

My daughter is a charming, well-rounded, culturally balanced, beautiful biracial girl who excels academically, and–I might add she’s one very fine pianist. She has friends of all races and heritages, and she loves people. In fact, whenever someone refers to my daughter as one ethnic group over another, she’ll quickly inform she’s neither one over the other, but both (African-American and Hispanic), thus bi-racial. She loves all of who she is, and is very proud of both her heritages.

 

I must admit, I have heard of and read stories about biracial children and adults alleging they’ve encountered problems fitting into groups, but I truly hadn’t spent any time at all pondering over this subject where my own child is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I did my homework as a parent; I made sure to do my part to balance knowledge of both heritages and pointedly built her character, self-esteem and self-worth. This is mainly because self-esteem challenges, good or bad, have to do with any parenting and environmental situations, and not based on one’s racial make-up.

 

Because I happen to be an African-American mother of a biracial child whose father is Hispanic, I felt if there are those who declare just because a child is biracial they will automatically have psychological problems; I needed to set a platform about diversity and bullying in motion.

 

The truth of the matter is, children have it hard these days no matter what their ethnic background. Psychological problems stem from a child’s own lack of self-worth, not from the color of the child’s skin. If anything, the problem stems from adults’ bigotry and small-mindedness. In twenty-first century America, there is no room for biases and division.

 

Multicultural education is the key to diversity and an important factor for decreasing bullying behaviors. We need to stop making assumptions about children based on what they look like and allow them the chance they deserve to grow into healthy, well-adjusted individuals.

 

Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. is the owner of Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity, DBA. Her collection of books builds character, self-worth, and empowers all children, whether monoculture, biracial of multiracial. Visit her website for more information: http://www.BooksThatSow.com. We are proud to have her on Project RACE’s Advisory Board.

A Thank You Letter from a Student

faviconI’ve taken my role as an educator seriously whether working closing with children in public school settings, graduate level students, or with my own daughter.

 

It makes my heart glad realizing students not only accomplish and master targeted curricular goals and objectives, but when students take time reaching out to teachers/professors thanking them for marked services, it makes me realize my work has value, and my students are achieving expected standards.

 

Below, I’m sharing a letter received from one of my graduate level students who’s aspiring to become a public school administrator. This student was enrolled in “The Classroom Teacher as a Researcher” course I taught during summer 2014.

 

This notice came by way of an email, but I certainly had not expected it. It was indeed a lovely surprise.

 

Dr. Vasquez,

 I just wanted to give you an update on my research. I was able to use most of the paper I submitted to you. However, I updated it to fit my research tutee and made the changes you suggested. I am so happy to let you know that my first three chapters have been submitted and accepted without any recommendations for changes.
 
I want to thank you for your supervision and guidance to reach this point!
 
Blessings,
(student name was here)

Bullying Statistics 2014

teacherOctober is Anti-Bullying month, and yet the statistics are still alarming.

 

Check out the latest bullying statistics at the website below!

 

http://nobullying.com/bullying-statistics-2014/

 

With so much in the media about bullying, you’d think there would be a drastic decline by now.

 

Please visit my Pinterest Boards where you will find various books, materials/resources, videos and messages from a host of authors who pledge their time and energy in efforts to help end bullying — http://pinterest.com/booksthatsow/

 

If you know of families who are dealing with bullying issues, you may also want to peruse my Pinterest Boards for Diversity materials and tools, or take a look at the links found on my website.  Diversity activities can be useful with ending bullying. You must also remember Self-affirmation and Self-fulfilling Prophecy activities which may help build empowerment within children. Empowerment skills will help esteem levels of both the bully and the bully-ee in positive, productive ways.

 

Please do all that you can in your communities, schools, and workplaces to help put an end to this dreadful pandemic called bullying.

 

When Your Boss is the Bully

Photo   Yes, the bible is right!

I Peter 2:18-25   Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

 

If we have faith, I certainly realize we can’t be double-minded and/or take matters into our own hands, but we must defend ourselves just long as we keep things in perspective, act calm and humble ourselves.

 

If, however, you find yourselves having to defend what is just and right, and if you have been unjustly portrayed as someone else, or lied upon, you may want to follow these steps:

  • Join a Union (you may need to speak to the legal team of your organization)
  • Let your boss realize you feel harassed. By doing so, they may “back off” for fear they are “getting in over their heads”
  • Whenever you meet with your boss behind closed doors, you may want to take a witness with you. Most people will not want any part of being your witness, but ensure them they do not have to say a word
  • If you cannot take a witness, take a tape recorder with you. Follow the law of your state if you choose to do this, however. In Texas, all one has to do is announce and/or alert the other party they are being taped. It isn’t wise to record someone without their knowledge.
  • Keep a journal, log, or notebook of all interventions, or conversations with your boss
  • Invest in dividers/tabs for your notebook. Have sections for the following: verbal interactions emails, and any written correspondences. Note dates, times, settings and any witnesses.
  • Keep two sets of your journal, log or notebook. The one kept at work may suddenly come up missing
  • Keep any and all records. You’d be surprised how emails will end up supporting you. NEVER get anything via verbal correspondence. Your boss will deny telling you anything.
  • Never share your thoughts, and/or actions with ANYONE. You’d be surprised who your friends are NOT during times like these.
  • Smile lots. Never let your boss realize they’re making you feel uncomfortable
  • Never insubordinate yourself.
  • Follow all rules and remain on your P’s and Q’s – Dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Your boss will look for ANYTHING to “ruffle your feathers” and cause you to lose your job.
  • Pray lots! God’s intervention is AWESOME!

 

Note: Your boss will do a great job of alienating you, so be prepared for becoming a loner. Even those who feel your boss is wrong will not want to associate with you for fear the same thing may happen to them – Sad, but true.

 

Note: Your boss is human and will fall short at times. When he/she keeps copies of their mishaps, make a copy of it and/or obtain (whatever it is) for your records.

 

At this point, your boss will be happy to “back off.” Your boss must treat, and give you the same respect as the other team members in your department. For example: If they give one team member flex time, you must be given flex time.

Pep Talk

IsabellaAs our children journey back to school this year, let us not forget to give them a huge hug while assuring them we are their best advocates, and spokespersons just long as they follow school rules, respect themselves and others, and follow the laws of the land.

 

I believe in my heart of hearts if we instill in our children there are rules to be followed, perhaps our children can and will avoid adverse issues unawares.

 

Our children must also learn empathy and care for one another. They must learn to work hard for the things they need, and desire. If so, they will surely become proud of themselves and their goods.

 

When our children are not with us, but in the trusting hands of school officials, we must allow our children to soar while becoming responsible citizens in our society who will one day be charged with making decisions in our stead.

 

Remind our children to choose their company wisely, not become followers but leaders. Let us remind them if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t right. Tell our children it is okay to move themselves out, or away from situations that aren’t good for their well-being.

 

When peer pressure lurks their way, it is okay to stand tall and say “no.”

 

Tell children to “keep their heads to the grind” meaning – listen to your teachers, get organized and remain that way.  Remain studious, ask questions and get their assignments completed in timely fashions.

 

Let us give our children a “pep talk” today and throughout the school year, and let us pray for their safety, strength, and positive growth in right directions.

 

Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity, DBA

http://www.BooksThatSow.com

Photos within Your Blog Posts: Do You Own Them?

I’m told adding pictures to our blog posts increases the likelihood that people will remain on our website pages much longer than they would if we have posts without pictures.  After studying my Google Analytics, I believe there’s some validity to this statement. At least, it certainly proves to be true for me.

 

I might add, whenever I’m on another blogger’s site, the pictures add to my curiosity. I gain more insight from the posts, and depending on the topic, I learn more about the author and/or contributor of the posts. For me, I also collect a small sense of connection as I delve more into the author’s world and perspective of their topical messages.

 

Since I purchased a nice Canon camera a few years back and now own a pretty fancy Samsung Galaxy Note 3, I find myself capturing pictures of all sorts. One never knows when some of the shots may prove useful in one way, or another for my posts.

 

I’m especially aggressive about this task due to an article I read a few months back. One blogger used a photo within her post that someone else shot.  Somehow, the owner happened upon the blog post and saw their photo used within the author’s blog, and the unimaginable occurred. The blogger was sued and had to pay the owner of the photo a handsome fee. A simple, “I’m sorry. I had no idea I did anything illegal. I didn’t mean any harm.” just didn’t do.

 

As an author who loves to include photos within my blog posts, I thought, Oh no! I never want this sort of thing to happen to me, so I stopped using photos that aren’t mine, including photos from Ficklr, which I have been told was safe to use. Now, I’m about the business of making my own collage of photos just for my blogging task. If I’ve taken the photos myself, I own the photos, right? Just long as I’m not taking pictures of someone’s child without their permission, I should be okay, at least I hope so.

 

Just today while visiting my Mom, I thought to take a picture of her new watermelon patch, a small spot she captured in her back yard for growing her very own watermelon. Whoever thought? At least I never at had inkling my Mom would ever do this. This was especially interesting to me for two reasons: (1) My Mom usually keeps a very neat and well-manicured lawn (as you can see this small area isn’t very pretty) (2) I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life — a real watermelon patch growing by my very own Mom right in her backyard, or any place for that matter.

 

My Mom’s Small Watermelon Patch

 

This one is the length of my hand.

 

This one is about the length of my foot (size 71/2).

 

Although I’m taking many different photos for the purpose of fulfilling this one goal, I’m truly enjoying myself and love how my collage of photos is developing.

 

I hope you will come back again soon to read more of my blog posts, and enjoy more of my very own shots that I’ll include to spice thing up a bit.

 

Photo   Oh and by the way, here is side view photo of my beautiful Mom.  This shot was taken last winter as she shopped at a furniture store. Perhaps I’ll capture one of her later on fiddling around in her watermelon patch.

 

 

 

A Grieving Dog

Going on trips with my family is so much fun! The excitement leading up to the days, packing and talking about what we might “get into” once we reach our destination only adds to the fun and anticipation, but what about our dear pets?  Once we reach our destination, do we think about our furry friends left behind with strangers (or in my most recent case my sister) between our fun and laughter?

 

Photo   Photo   Photo  Photo

For me, preparing vacations is a grueling task because I worry about the pets. I begin thinking about who will take care of all three of them. The cats: Chase and Patch and our dog: Floppy. I’m not as worried about Chase and Patch as much as I am Floppy, however. Any time we’ve had the Vet to board Floppy he wouldn’t eat and is miserably unhappy. I mean, going without food for 5 nights at a time worries me. It was reported by the Vet he actually did this about 3 years ago when we journeyed to Florida for a Disney World trip. It doesn’t seem to matter that the cats are placed near him for familiarity, or that he brings along his favorite toys or snacks, and as far as I know is taken care of quite well, the outcome is always the same.

 

Well, on our most recent trip to Corpus Christi/South Padre Island (only gone two nights, mind you) I just couldn’t bear to board him, so I asked my sister to “camp out” at our house and take care of our pets since she is very comfortable and familiar with all three pets, but especially Floppy since she helped us crate him. Since my husband and I both worked at the time he came into our lives and of course my daughter was quite young and is school-aged, my sister came in at noon each day for several weeks. She ensured that he “did his business” fed him quite well (giving him special treats along the way), played and loved on him. She literally spoiled him. He gets very excited when she comes over to visit, so she was the perfect person to care for him in our absence. When I contacted my sister, she was happy to take on the role as our pet’s caretaker for two nights, plus she had the entire house to herself, and was welcome to anything she saw and/or needed, so we were all satisfied and relieved. We were set, right?

 

Upon our return, I was shocked to learn from my sister Floppy was actually in misery most of the time. She actually watched him walk from room to room appearing to look for us, but at least he did eat while in her care. She fed him lots of cheese and deli meats between meals ):

 

I have noticed however, even after being home one full week, I can’t turn for Floppy. I’ve almost tripped over his little body three times because he is my new shadow. He walks behind me all day long no matter where I go and he wants to sit in my lap all day. At times when I look down he’s peering up at me, and whenever I’m at the computer or kitchen table he’s nestled next to my feet. My husband and daughter have noticed his actions, too. I suppose our dear dog thought we’d left him for good. Poor baby! I’ve had to reassure him all week long that’ll never happen as much as I am able.

 

I suppose pets are very sensitive and grieve just as we do. I’ve spent time this week letting him realize that he is just as important to me and I am to him.

 

Here is my big boy now:  He’s finally getting back to his normal self.

A Marketing Plan That Just Might Work This Time

Book TrailerLately, I’ve spent time pondering with an attempt for determining the best way to market my books because as all authors realize, writing the book is the easiest part. Then, comes the marketing. What a trip! And I almost mean this literally. I’ve tried one avenue after another, spent lots of time, effort and money on one plan or another. I realize spending time with one well-thought-out plan is strategically fundamental for gauging value and worth of an approach, but patience is a virtue. We each want instant gratification, exposure and most of all book sales.

 

Spending time learning what others have done and/or are doing is worth it all right, but what works for some may not work for others, so I’ve continued to read, and search until with the help of others, I’ve lucked upon something I think may work this time.

 

Here is what I mean:

Targeted audiences: It is highly important for authors to take valued time identifying their targeted audiences. This doesn’t only mean who, but where. Demographics are equally important in this marketing affair. This means authors must know what cities/states to send their marketing information. This all depends on the author’s platform topics. For example, my platform topics center on Diversity and Bullying issues, so I had to research cities who are accepting of multicultural awareness, multiracial/biracial children and family unions, and the like.

 

In addition, what I’ve learned from a trusted source here lately is less is best, but less doesn’t mean skimpy. Less means putting power within the packaging and streamlining with as much ‘bang” as possible, so instead of stuffing my envelopes with “everything but the kitchen sink” I’ve minimized with these three essential forms.

 

(1) Cover Letter

Within my cover letter I talk about my platform topics and why I do what I do. This gives the reader an idea of what drives me and my writing. My cover letter is addressed like this:

C/o Managers/Administrators

This way, I have only one cover letter and I don’t have to navigate between too many forms.

 

(2) Introduction to the Book

Although I’ve authored more than one book, I take turns sending out information on each book. This way, I’m focused on one book giving it its due credence, love and attention. Who knows, if the viewer is interested, they’ll take a look at my website and order my other books.

I have one of these for each of my children’s books.

 

(3) About the Author

Here, I tell the viewer about ME. Believe it or not, readers are extremely curious about the writer of books they read. I not only talk about my credentials, but I give them a small glimpse into my personal life, and move on to a small spill about my passion for storyline of my work (books)

I only need one Author Bio for all books, right?

 

Note:

By only including these three forms, it also saves on postage, doesn’t take a lot of the viewer’s time, and helps me remain succinct and organized in my planning.

 

So, Who Receives my Envelopes?

 

Blue Ribbon Schools

Principals or Counselors

Bookstores

CRNs/Managers

Libraries

Lead Librarians

Toy Stores (on occasion)

 

Additional Note:

Each city/state has all four entities, so you’ll have a wealth of people to send your marketing information to.

 

Will It Work?

Now, let’s see how this plan of action works. I’ll keep you posted on my FB and Twitter pages. I hope we’re friends so you’ll be able to see my updates and progress. I remain positive, upbeat and hopeful about this strategic marketing plan.