If this girl was in your youth group...

From my neck of the woods:

Quote:
http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/teens-suicide-highlights... Teen’s suicide highlights pain of fighting depression

Friends remember 15-year-old Megan Fickert for her ever–present smile, kind heart and goofy sense of humor. “Nobody could be around her and be in a bad mood,” recalled her friend, Jessica Coburn.

In the end, it seemed, there was only one person she couldn’t cheer up: herself.

The Fairmont High School sophomore killed herself in her Kettering home last week after battling depression since the fifth grade. “Megan has been sick for years, and I’ve been trying to get her help for years,” said her mother, Michelle Fox.


It seems that there is an epidemic of teens battling depression. They may have a reputation, as this girl did, of being a happy person, but the family knew that this was mostly a facade. There's been no mention that I've seen of the family being involved in a church, but I wondered as I read this what part a church could have played in getting some help for this family.

Do any pastors or youth leaders here have some strategies for dealing with these kinds of problems in your youth group and congregation?

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TALyzenga's picture

To steal a line from my favorite University, it starts with life touching life. The hesitation that many have to get involved with someone with "depression" issues is the amount of emotional, physical (time), and spiritual commitment. They are needy to the extreme. For most of them, they are going to need to first trust you before they are going to trust Christ.

Also, pick your battles. Remember that every fruit (ie cutting) has a root issue.

Here though are some lessons that teens who have struggled with depression have told me have helped.

1. Understanding that I should not look inward or outward for approval, but upward. (1 Corinthians)

2. Understanding that life is more then the pursuit of happiness or the avoidance of sadness.
(Ecclesiastes)

3. What I can change I should. What I can not change I should use as stepping stones to being more like Christ. (Ecclesiastes)

4. There are things in life that I need to separate from. (Colossians)

5. Fear is never from God, so making a decisions based on fear is not a decision based on faith.
(2 Timothy)

6. Failure does not mean forever (Life of Elijah)

If you want more detail on what I mean by any of these let me know.

I am not a doctor and I do believe there medical reasons for some forms of depression. Any Pastor who gets involved in a medically treated case of depression should familiarize themselves with HIPPA regulations.

My heart breaks for these teens who struggle with these types of issues. The biggest weapon we have is prayer. For me, it is praying for wisdom as God knows truly what is in the heart. I can guess and wonder, but He knows.

Tim

Tim Lyzenga

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Do you think it is a appropriate for a church to try to develop relationships with area doctors and counselors so that they can provide trustworthy referrals? Is this out-of-bounds for church leadership- IOW, should a youth worker or pastor just say "I think you need to see your family doctor/professional counselor", or would it be more helpful to find a doc that the family and pastor or youth leader could work with in cooperation, to effectively come at a problem for all sides? Sometimes when I read about teens in trouble I wonder if we don't draw unnecessary lines between the church and medical or psychiatric help.

TALyzenga's picture

To be honest I have found that there are not a lot of professionals that want to involve clergy. I have been able to be involved because it has been stressed by the family that I stay informed. I've even been on the short list of people they can call or have visit after having a teen admitted to a hospital or Psyc Ward.

There are legal obligations such as if I am told the teen will hurt themselves or others or if I am made aware of abuse in the home, which do require me to report to authorities.

I do believe that the church could be a wonderful partner in the process of helping teens recover. As I previously stated there is in some churches a pressure NOT to help. Because of the fear of lawsuits, the fear of moral failings, politics ("why don't you spend this much time on all the kids?") and the time and energy these things require. Fear on many levels is stopping pastors and churches from getting "too" involved which it should not (1-2 Timothy.)

Let me give you a small sample of what I have dealt with. My church has 150 people. We have 32 in our youth group. I have had 7 cases where a teen was being "treated" for depression. 2 of them are sisters from a horrible home situation. Others are from blended or broken homes. 5 of them are girls. Some of these kids have been saved, and recovered well. They have brought me other kids of the type. These teens are looking for those who will make an honest investment in their lives.

The need is great!

Tim

Tim Lyzenga