As many of you may have heard, Brunswick lost a young person to suicide late last week. His loss has been felt throughout the greater Bath/Brunswick community. We are devastated, confused and angry.
The times we find ourselves in are some of the hardest any of us have ever had to face. The pandemic continues to rear its ugly head, physical distancing has led to social isolation, and we lack clear leadership to safely navigate our lives. Our children and schools are under incredible stress, each trying their best to make sense of these circumstances. There are no easy answers.
Our community struggles with teen anxiety and depression in normal times. In the midst of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, we are seeing significant increase in depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use. These are unhealthy side effects of stress. We are asked continually what people can do to help. Below are some ideas.
I encourage you to create safe and open space with those you encounter in the weeks ahead. Ask how they are doing – really. Acknowledge how hard this is, but also acknowledge that there is hope.
Speak with your kids and really ask them what they are feeling. Don’t pretend to have all the answers; we are all trying to navigate a path through adversity, a path that is best walked in groups. This is not the “new normal”, despite how many people seem to say that lately. We will get through this, and we will get this together; then we will join to create a new normal.
Talk About It
Youth need to know that they are not marginalized; that they are important, that they matter and how they are feeling matters. Talk with young people in your life in a caring, non-judgmental way; ask them how they are doing.
Ask what they know about this most recent loss and ask about suicide. If you are concerned about their safety, connect them with immediate help by calling or texting the Maine Crisis Hotline 1-888-568-1112, taking them to the local emergency room or by contacting their on-call pediatrician.
Reinforce that this pandemic, and the struggles they are facing, will not last forever – even if it feels like it right now. Don’t trivialize how they are feeling by comparing it to what others have faced in the past (wars, Great Depression) Remember that everything is relative. This is HARD.
Resources we recommend:
NAMI Maine Teen Text Support Line
Teens can talk about their feelings and get support from another young person by texting (207) 515 – 8398. This is available every day from 12pm – 10pm. This peer support text line is for youth 14-20 years old and staffed by individuals under 23 years of age.
Discussing suicide in emails, social media posts, or news articles can be triggering for those who are suffering. If public discussion is necessary, please include details about how to access the Maine Crisis Hotline:
Call or text to the Maine Crisis Hotline 1-888-568-1112
While the pandemic certainly changes how we are interacting, there are still safe ways to combat isolation. Go for a walk or meet a friend for hot chocolate. Reach out on the phone, or online.
Visit the Midcoast Youth Center
Midcoast Youth Center is open 3-7 Monday – Friday and 12-7 on Saturdays. While we currently require strict masking, proper hand hygiene, and social distancing, there are still fun things to do. Members of our staff are Youth Mental Health trained.
We serve free meals 3 days a week through our Meal Train. We watch movies, do art projects, provide tutoring, and spend lots of time outdoors. Our Youth Outreach Coordinator supports youth experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness in Sagadahoc County, Brunswick & Harpswell.
Check Out Rainy Day Farm Mentoring Center
Rainy Day Farm Mentoring Center is a new program designed to help neurodiverse teens (and their families) explore their interests while learning life skills and bonding with volunteer mentors. We have a focus on gardening, pet care, art, and dance.
For teens struggling with mental illness or substance abuse, Day One provides the most complete continuum of youth and family-based services in the State of Maine. The MISSION of Day One is to improve the health of Maine by providing substance use, mental health and wellness services to youth and families.
- Evaluations – screening to assess the level of substance use and mental health issues.
- Parent & Family Support & Education – for parents seeking tools and information to help their family.
- Portland Teen Center – outreach and treatment for homeless youth.
- School-based Counseling – on-site mental health and substance use counseling for middle and high school students.
- Residential Treatment Centers – a six month residential substance use treatment program for youth from all over Maine that serves 13 – 20 year old boys and girls separately in two locations.
- Continuing Care – counseling support is available to all clients who have completed treatment to assist in developing life skills while maintaining a recovering lifestyle.
Please contact Day One at (207) 874-1045 ext. 1100 to arrange an appointment
G.E.A.R Parent Network
Through parent-to-parent sharing of experiences and knowledge, G.E.A.R. Parent Network empowers parents of children with behavioral health needs to build on their family’s strengths and to advocate for their family’s needs.
Support by phone at 1-800-264-9224
Place Posters in Bathrooms
Place posters in restrooms or other private areas where anyone may feel more comfortable tearing off a tab with support information.