Ian was preparing for school when a behavioral issue popped up and was sent to his room. His emotional capacity was not able to decipher or understand the consequences of what he was about to do next.
Ian took his life at the age of ten. His mother would have never contemplated this chain of events. No parent suspects their child to take their life.
Ian’s passing will bring about a new awareness that children may be quietly suffering without a parent’s knowledge. The loss of this precious life will also teach us that when a child/teen is or could possibly be in crisis, any form of weapon could do great harm against a child or towards others.
This topic is very difficult to talk about because a family is forever changed and in deep sorrow. Yet, we must think about it. Sadly, we are seeing more situations such as this and it will happen again.
This isn’t about gun rights. This isn’t about what this family could have or should have done. This IS about how to keep it from being repeated. We can honestly believe that Ian’s family would not want other parents to face what they are struggling with now.
So what can we learn from this tragedy?
1. Communication – Let us try to be more active in our child’s life to have an open relationship to talk about hard stuff such as bullying, insecurity, body issues, depression, etc… Unfortunately, these issues are becoming more prevalent in younger ages.
2. Know the signs – They are hard to tell at first. But they will be repetitive and get stronger. Mood changes such as anger, lashing out, crying, sadness, and isolation are just a few. Eating and sleep patterns are not the same. Don’t wait till the signs are too late.
3. Safe place – Let your child know that they have a place or person that they can go to when they are upset. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to share how they feel with you. It’s important that they have someone to unload the burden they are carrying.
4. Before punishment – Ask your child during a time when there isn’t an issue, for ways on how to express what they are upset about before administering punishment. Many times when a child is in crisis, they don’t have the sense to stop what they are doing to explain. Have them sit with you quietly until they are calm and let them know that no matter what they share, they won’t be reprimanded.
5. Help your child find positive ways – Guide and support them through stages of anger, depression, and other emotions. E.g. if angry, show them alternatives so that they can vent out what they are feeling. If it is a school issue, speak with the teachers, principal, counselor or mentors. Get others involved. They are the extra eyes to see how your child is doing.
6. Weapon Control – Let’s create a “Family safety comes first!” home. Guns should be removed when children live in the home. However, if you are a responsible adult with a permit registered with the local police, the rules should be: Remove bullets and keep in separate place from gun. Keep gun locked at all times and in a locked area that is not seen. Only you , the gun owner, should have access. Do not tell children or teens that you have a weapon. This is for safety reasons because most deaths (accidental or suicide) that happen in families are due to weapons being exposed or there is knowledge of a weapon. Let’s keep our kids safe!
7. Have family meetings – Kids need to know that we want to be involved in their life. Kids in crisis need to know that we love them and are there to support them no matter the issue. Sitting down and having conversations are door openers to deeper issues. Spending time with family is a must.
8. Pray for your children – We are not superhero parents. We learn each day being a parent. We make mistakes. We are not perfect. There is no guidebook to how to help struggling kids. But we can pray for them. We can lift them up to God and ask Him to help us. Prayer is powerful and God understands your child better than you. He created them. He knows their mind, spirit, emotions and capabilities. So, He will certainly do a great job in being there for them.
9. Seek support from others – You are not meant to struggle alone. Reach out to the Church, family, friends, and counsel to give you direction and help.
Lastly, keep the Sevostjanov/Grusetskaja family in your prayers. Ian will be missed greatly but his life is a powerful statement that we can do more to help our kids.