In September 2011, we lost our son, Wes, to suicide. He was just 16. He was a caring young man with a sensitive, generous, happy nature and an infectious smile that cheered and encouraged others. Neither his two brothers or we, his parents, would ever have thought something like this could happen, to him or to us.
Devastated, we questioned how could this be? We found the shocking truth that many of our children, notably teens, are struggling or suffering with problems or issues, important to them; feeling alone and dealing with them with little or no experience; maybe feeling unable to ask teachers, coaches, peers, friends, parents or siblings for help. Why not? For fear they may appear weak, laughed at, judged inadequate or unacceptable to those around them.
Today’s teen communicates and connects in a very different way than their parents and that is through social media and networking. They are the first generation to be raised with texting, messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. It keeps them ‘in the loop’ 24/7 and they rely on it for expression, integration, acceptance and approval. Social media is their comfort zone and where many go first, rightly or wrongly for all their answers.
It is okay to have problems and it is okay to ask for help. If teens need or are willing to accept support or counselling for any problem, large or small, we believe many will choose social media before more traditional resources.
www.wesforyouthonline.ca wants to be there for them: a place to go to express themselves and get support from professional, non-judgemental counsellors; it will be a one-on-one connection for them, away from any office, or the eyes and opinions of others. Online counselling will give teens an opportunity to share their feelings and concerns, deal with their life issues privately in a manner familiar and comfortable to them, while ensuring a safety net in the process.
We hope the website and online counselling will raise awareness and promote mental and emotional wellness in our youth. We want it to be a resource for both teens and parents in Grey Bruce and surrounding areas.