Dear Parents,

It's time to sit down with your kids and have a conversation.  Life can be hectic and with all that's going on around us, it can be hard.  No question about it.

When was the last time you sat down, turned off the cell phone, and discussed life?  Your kid's life...with your kid?

My daughters are grown, and admittedly, it's easier for me to pontificate on this, but hear me out.

I've been following the case of the young girl who attended high school in Ocean County.  She was bullied to the point that she took her own life.

When I see pictures of the young girl who took her own life, my eyes tear.  I can't imagine the pain that family must feel.  My hope is that after reading this message, you'll notice the signs that might be cause for concern.

Below is a list of important warning signs parents need to know.

1.  Talking or writing about taking their own life.

2.  They're less interested in their social life.

3.  Mood swings.

4.  They have a feeling of helplessness.

5.  A change in your son or daughter's routine.

6.  Self-destructive behavior.

7.  Are they giving away their belongings?

8.  Extreme mood changes.

I know you'll agree that most of the list looks like the typical teenage years.  The challenge of being a parent is being able to put it all together and know when your teen is in trouble.  That is why now, more than ever, communication is so important.

You might want to have a discussion about the availability of a mental health emergency line.  Let your kids know if they don't want to talk to you, and they need help, there is a national hotline they can call from any state, 9-8-8.  There, they can talk to someone anonymously.

Teen suicide: What parents need to know - Mayo Clinic

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