The news that child suicide is growing in Israel only highlights how urgent the spreading is of information to prevent it. But even one case should make us knowledgeable and powerful on this issue.
A. Tell all children whom you love: Know that a day may come that you or one of your friends has lost all hope and power to live on. A thought of suicide could come in a panic for seeing no way out anymore, or from being drained by big problems. You can help by saying two things:
1. Acknowledge that you believe that s/he/you see no light at the end of the tunnel. I believe you. Do not counter: just cheer up. Ask how it feels. Show empathy. Understand that the person only wants to end their suffering, not their lives. Do not skip saying that you believe that they feel like that that.
2. Say that in half a year you will see things differently. I know that you cannot believe that now, and that is fine. It will get better. Only say these things after you did what is in point 1.
Do not scare or guilt-trip them. They suffer enough without that.
B. Tell a true story. Here is one: When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, many Jews tried to commit suicide. Some succeeded and some failed. Who can blame them? But listen to what happened to the ones that failed to end their lives.
Some of them were oppressed by the Nazi, went into hiding, were betrayed and transported to Auschwitz and survived even that and returned to the Netherlands. These people, who went through the horrors of horror, did not try to end their lives before, during or after Auschwitz. They fought to live and saw enough purpose to keep doing so despite their pain. Many of them build families and greatly benefited the new generations by teaching them by word and example how valuable and purposeful a life dedicated to goodness can be.
C. Make talking about hopelessness non-taboo. Hopelessness is endemic in Israel. Talk about how the greatest heroes are not those who feel no fear but rather the ones who are terrified and do not give up.
A. Stop dividing mankind into good and bad people. We all have a good and evil inclination and each of us is beloved as we are. While you say that we are good and others are evil, some children will conclude that they must be evil too.
B. Stop maligning and bullying homosexuals and transgenders. Tell everyone that those are the best people, a hope for any population. Honor them before they come out. Allow for and applaud not knowing: questioning, queer, no-label, a-sexual, a-romantic, don’t know.
C. Stop pitying people. Every life is tremendously valuable. If people are isolated, help end their loneliness instead of their lives. Visit, give them access to animals. Every society and individual shows its value(s) in how well they care for the weak and vulnerable.
D. Don’t trust anyone older (stranger or sibling, weird or normal, male or female, nasty or nice, foe or friend) to be secluded with children in your care (not babies, not teenagers) and make sure the latter will tell you if anyone is scary, threatening them or making them suffer.
E. Have friends who fall outside stupid norms and tell your kids about their greatness. Don’t look down on others and don’t denounce others. Tell the stories of the Ugly Duckling and of Cinderella.