Speaker 1: Every parent, at some stage in the journey of raising their kids, is scared witless, has no idea what to do, no idea what to say. So don't ever feel like you're the only one who's had this experience. Everyone, everyone, everyone has this experience.
Speaker 2: It is about showing them it's OK to be vulnerable. I think if you can display that and show that behaviour, then it's sort of... It's like a permission. It's okay, you can see me doing it, so it's OK for you.
S1: What you need to do before you go into that conversation is something that's hard to do which is to kinda lower your own level of arousal, so you need to kinda find a time when they're relatively calm, but you're even calmer to begin from.
Speaker 3: I had to check my emotions as well. I had to keep calm and not be frustrated with the way she was feeling.
S1: It's a bit like fly fishing. So you put some bait on the line and you dangle it in front of their nose and then sometimes it'll be taken, but most times it'll just stay there dangling for a while and you whisk it away. But you just keep coming back to it. So if you've got a worry or concern, just realise that you're gonna have to raise it up probably on many occasions before you actually get a coherent kind of response. It's gonna be very frustrating because at times, you want a fast answer or you're... Particularly if I'm feeling anxious about something, you wanna try to find out whether you've got something to really worry about or not. But unfortunately, it's gonna take some time before they can formulate a position that can really inform you about that.
Speaker 4: Try again the next day. And the next day. You've gotta keep having a crack at it until you get the conversation going and you find out. It might end up being nothing. You've got all worried about nothing, but it might end up being really important.
S1: If you want your young person to get some help, that's far more effective to really blame yourself, really, or to say, "Look, I don't know whether I'm crazy or not. I don't know whether I've got something to worry about and I really love you absolutely, and I wanna make sure things are OK for you. So I would like to ask you to come along, so I can actually sleep at night." That actually allows them to help you out.
S4: If she'd flat refused, I probably would've gone to see her GP myself and said, "This is what's going on. What do you think I should do?" [chuckle] Because I probably wouldn't have had a lot of solutions.
S5: With kids today, the 1-300 number counsellor, the website, would be something that would be less confronting than perhaps the actual face-to-face with a counsellor or even a GP.
S1: And obviously, of course, there are times when the kid will arc up and say "I don't wanna go. I don't wanna talk to those kind of people," and so on. And generally, I just say that parents will make a deal with them, say, "Just come once. All you have to do is come once, and then it's up to you." And from that moment on, it's the therapist's or the counsellor's job to really engage that young person.
S6: One of the strategies we use was to actually do the background work initially for him. We went to seek the advice of professionals. We went to see them, see if they would suit our son and so we did the legwork for him, rather than him having to go and see lots of people that may not be suited.
S3: And I think that's the most important thing is to keep trying until you find someone that you feel comfortable with and you've got a click there.
S2: Perhaps we would have to go to another level that required a different approach and that may be calling in help without permission, getting someone else to come in, and try and take a lead role.
S1: When you feel like your young person might be thinking of harming themselves or even that life is not worth living, it's a terrifying moment, so it's always better to ask than not ask. As a parent, you need to be really blunt and direct about it, in order to kinda start to have that conversation. You won't increase the risk of something happening as a result of asking. The sort of question that I would probably say that parents should ask is something like, "You've been seeming pretty sad or angry lately. I'm wondering if you ever felt like you should... You feel like hurting yourself or doing something like that? And when people have times when things are rough, some of them feel like life isn't worth living. Is that something as you've been thinking about recently?"
S1: Well, if your young person says "yes" to either self-harm or suicidal thinking, of course, you've gotta act, and you've gotta act pretty decisively and quickly. In terms of suicidal thinking, I guess it's worth saying, "How confident are you that you can keep yourself safe at the moment? Tonight? Today?" And so you really need to know. And of course, if they say that they don't feel confident that they can keep themselves safe right now, you really need to act straight away. You need to kinda take them to an emergency service or really get them some assistance straight away.
S1: If they are able to guarantee their safety, that's OK to pause the conversation, say, "Look, can we return to this in a bit, and I wanna basically pick up on it", and then you might wanna go away and call a help line and talk to them about your concerns. I mean, parenting is a hard job, so having an outside coach to kinda help you to sort out your thinking around something can be really valuable.
S1: All parents get stuck. All parents don't know what the right thing to say is. In fact, there are times there's isn't a right thing to say. So just by having a conversation around this is as unwieldy and is kinda difficult and uncertain as it probably feels, you're actually modelling there’s, another way to solve this, not by doing something, but actually by talking it through. And that's useful.