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HELP

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Sometimes children get so confused about what is going on in their lives and so down on themselves that they can hardly stand it. They may feel like running away or just giving up on themselves. These are awful feelings. They feel afraid, angry, and very upset. They have more stress than they can handle and their self-esteem is very low. They cannot get their thoughts straightened out or figure out their problems. There seems no end to their bad feelings. They believe they have come to the end of the road and don't fit or belong anywhere. Killing themselves seems like their only choice. Looking at these signs that a child may be suicidal will be useful. As you consider the signs, give some thought to how vulnerable foster children are. 32. They have lost an important relationship and can hardly live without it. The first idea to think about is "perception." This is how things seem from the child's point of view. Feeling she cannot live without a relationship is her perception of how she would be without the relationship. Seeing the relationship as important also is her perception. When you see this sign in your foster child, she perceives the relationship she lost was important, thinks it is gone, and believes she cannot live without it. It does not matter how others see or think about her and the relationship. Her perceptions are how it is for her. Perception is her reality and the only reason for her actions. When working with her, start where she is, start with her perceptions. It is easy to just say that what she thinks and feels is not true. Some people start by deciding that the relationship was not really so important. Others start by deciding that she has not really lost the relationship. They say to her, "Things will work out." Either way, these people think the child is wrong when she thinks she cannot live without the relationship. Helping means getting inside her skin so you can see how she perceives what happened. Why does she think the relationship was so important? What makes her think she lost the relationship? Here is the most important question. Why does she think she cannot live without it? Say to her," I want to understand. Please help me understand. What about the relationship was so important for you? What have you lost that is so very important to you? Will you talk to me about what you are thinking and feeling?" This is your goal. Her grief, anger, fear, and emptiness are real and painful. Her loss is real; and living past the pain feels impossible to her. To help, you need to share her grief, her strong feelings, and her pain. It is as if you take part of it into yourself. The child cannot handle it by herself. But between the two of you, you can. Here is how you tell if you are helping. Can you feel her loss, her emptiness, her grief, and her pain? Is it a little as if the feelings were yours? If so, it is empathy. Don't tell her how she should think or feel. More important, don't say her feelings and how she thinks about what happened are wrong. Listen and feel until empathy comes for you. You can then honestly say, "I am afraid for you. I am afraid for me. Maybe I do not totally understand; but I feel awful and hurt as if it happened to me. I want to be close to you and help us get through this. Can I share your grief with you and struggle through it with you?" Holding or touching her physically may make her and you feel better; but holding her emotionally is the key to helping her. 33. They became very embarrassed over something and cannot face it. This sign begins to get at the main problem. Losing a relationship and feeling unable to live without it makes it seem like losing the relationship is the main problem. Thinking about her feeling unable to handle an embarrassment makes her pain more understandable. It has mostly to do with her loss or her fear of losing acceptance by other people. This idea needs more discussion.

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