Recent suicides among area youth inspired adults to ask kids what they're thinking and feeling; kids responded during an event held at the Redwood Falls National Guard Armory this week.
What are our kids thinking? What issues are they dealing with daily? How can we as adults help them?
These are questions a group of area youth talked about Tuesday night during what was called a kids rally as part of the Do Something movement that has been taking place in the community.
One by one the students got up to talk about their depression issues, their struggles with friends who have taken their own lives and how they would like to see the community get more involved.
Seated in a semi-circle of gray folding chairs at the National Guard Armory, adults from the area sat and listened – giving students the floor.
For about an hour and a half students got up and shared.
Some talked about how they had been bullied. Others admitted they were facing diagnosed depression.
Many said they had thought of or had even attempted suicide.
What the majority of them said was they continue to grieve the loss of friends, adding they feel the pain and need people to know it takes time to move on.
“There is pain we feel,” said one of the youth, adding moving on can be a scary thing as you fear you might forget about the person your grieving for at that point.
The kids encouraged each other sharing their own experiences of what has helped, such as grief counseling and just having people to talk to about their problems.
Knowing there are people in the community who are willing to listen can be a big help for kids, added another of the youth.
Those who talked expressed the gamut of emotions as they admitted dealing with feelings of personal guilt wondering if there was more they could have done.
“This is our home,” said another of the youth. “For me this is the only place I have ever known. We ask why this is happening and we don’t have any answers, either.”
One of the students who spoke expressed appreciation to the community, as she has heard a number of local businesses and property owners have expressed a willingness to let kids use their space for events they might want to hold – from dances to bonfires.
“It’s nice to see that kindness from people we have never even met,” a youth added.
The adults were en-couraged to watch for signs of depression and to get in the face of their own kids – to keep asking the questions.
There is a time when they feel what they say is being offered to someone they can trust when the floodgates are going to open as they talk about things they are facing.
Depression is not something that is just going to pass, and it is more than just feeling moody. It is more about recognizing dramatic changes in the behaviors of kids.
Just because you are not sure you are making a difference is no reason to quit, another said.
“Take us seriously,” added one of the youth.
When that happens changes may begin.