Let's Talk logo - Putnam Sentinel
PUTNAM COUNTY — “Talk to your kids today about strengths, drugs, [and] suicide. Listen like a friend, respond like a parent. Build them up now, they’ll be strong when it counts.”

These three statements represent the key messages of the ‘Let’s Talk’ initiative spearheaded by the Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Board of Putnam County. The effort aims to encourage parents to initiate important conversations with their kids which may be uncomfortable for some, and to provide ideas and suggestions on how to do so effectively.

To view those tips along with short, engaging instructional videos, parents are encouraged to visit: www.letstalkpc.com.

“The focus of the campaign is talking to kids about suicide and drugs because the number of kids using drugs or considering suicide are increasing,” wrote ADAMHS Board President Jennifer Horstman in an email to The Sentinel.

“The ADAMHS Board goal is prevention, bringing back the basics of communication and talking to kids. ‘Let’s Talk’ is simple, basic communication that the entire community can participate in for free. If a child has a positive interaction with several adults in one day, the impact on that child could prevent them from a risky behavior. The encouraging words can come from a parent, grandparent, doctor, or even a store clerk.”

A short guide with some suggestions for parents has been published by the ADAMHS Board and distributed to area schools and elsewhere throughout the county. Those suggestions include keeping a ‘Strengths Journal’ to take note of those things your child does well, and leaving words of encouragement on the bathroom mirror, in the lunch box, or in a text message.

Recommendations for speaking with children on the dangers of illicit drugs is offered for four different age groups: three to five year olds, five to eight year olds, eight to 12 year olds, and teenagers. These recommendations are meant to build on one another so that conversations on drugs continue to occur between parents and their kids throughout childhood and into young adulthood.

Recommendations include teaching children about the essentials of a healthy lifestyle; how to have factual discussions about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; practicing saying ‘No’ when a friend offers alcohol or drugs; and ensuring that kids know they can talk to their parents about anything, no matter what.

The guide also lists warning signs for children who may be contemplating suicide, such as weight loss or weight gain without any associated effort, seclusion or isolation, and social media posts with hopeless messages. It encourages parents to speak bluntly with their children when these warning signs are observed. The guide also calls on parents to use the word ‘suicide’ and ask their kids directly if they have ever thought about suicide.

More information and additional access to mental health professionals may be found through the agencys 24/7 toll-free ‘Hopeline’: 1-800-567-4673.