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*Priya did not expect to find her daughter at home that afternoon. But she did find her – hanging by a scarf from the ceiling of her bedroom, already dead. Krupa was 19.


It began like any other day for them.

The hustled morning. The coffee chit-chat. Her mild annoyance over Krupa neglecting to water the plants. The hurried breakfast. The instructions to drive safe. The roll of the eyes in response.

That nightmarish afternoon, when Priya couldn’t find a way to get into her own apartment after teaching a swimming lesson, her wildest imagination could not conjure up the possibility of her “happy” daughter ending up dead in her own bedroom.

Word spread fast. Police and strangers were bustling in and out of their home. Some sorry, some shocked, some relieved that it wasn’t their kid.

In an irony that did not escape anyone, Krupa’s room was filled with Post-it messages carrying intense motivational quotes. Stickers with hand-written messages covered an entire wall. Great role models sweating it out on posters. Actionable messages. To-do lists on her tabletop. Dreamy bucket-lists. 

This girl oozed positivity. And then killed herself.  

The only words that escaped her mother’s lips were, “ She never gave a clue! She looked so happy!”

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Not surprisingly, this incident remained on the minds of other parents – especially those in the neighborhood – for the next few weeks. Fear crept in and clenched them without warning – during a quiet cup of coffee, through a conversation with a friend, in the middle of work, while hustling their child through homework. The silence of the nights became particularly terrifying. 

Why did she do it? Where did her parents go wrong? Did she try to communicate?

The questions were many.

How much did we know about our kids? What are they thinking right now? How did she miss it? What am I missing? How would I know? 

Suddenly, their own kids looked like strangers to them.

The rise and rise of suicides

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a recent study found that suicide rates have surged to a 30-year high. The issue can now be described as an epidemic. It has also been reported as the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10-24. 

Here are 10 eye-opening insights from child psychologists and teen suicide experts gained from years of working with suicidal teens, their support groups, and their parents.

1 | Denial can be the culprit

Talking about suicide prevention is hard. To make it worse, this phenomenon seems to be on the rise in even seemingly happy and well-connected families – so what are we really missing?

Sarah Zalewski, a licensed professional counselor and cognitive behavior therapist from Connecticut who works with hundreds of teens every year, reiterates this rising occurrence. “This is true – some children commit suicide who nobody would suspect of even considering it. Unfortunately, children are not well known for their ability to see the big picture and to assess a current situation accurately.”

The somewhat good news is that most teens do exhibit symptoms, and they can be detected if observed closely. Many experts confirm that most of these symptoms may be subtle – minor changes in their behavior like an increase in aloofness or apathy and isolation from friends and family. Things that are easier to notice are the loss of interest in personal hygiene, their possessions, and food.

“Denial is a very powerful defense mechanism, and many adults miss the signs of an impending suicide attempt by denying the importance of the subtle changes they notice in their child’s demeanor and behaviors,” warns Dr. Gayani DeSilva, a psychiatrist in practice at Laguna Psych in Laguna, California.

2 | The damaging myth of the happy family

Many parents mistakenly assume that providing a happy growing experience for their child is synonymous with successfully shielding their own negative emotions from them. Experts point out, however, that genuine engagement happens only when the child is able to see, display, and digest a range of emotions – and perceive them as entirely normal.  

Cara Maksimow, a licensed professional counselor and founder of Maximize Wellness explains, “When families seem happy all the time, they may be teaching children that it is not okay to have negative emotions. Children’s feelings are not validated or normalized and hence they learn how to hide those feelings to fit in. These children don’t learn that feelings such as anger or sadness are normal parts of life and that there is validity in having a range of emotions.”

3 | The early years are crucial

Not enough can be said about how critical it is to establish a bond during the early years. Teenagers can’t be expected to come out suddenly and express themselves when they are already in the throes of intense emotions. The channels for communication need to be established in the early years.

Recognizing the fact that children are naturally resilient and helping them realize their inherent strengths will develop a strong sense of self and healthy self-esteem in the child. “Take every opportunity every day to point out the child’s internal strengths,” advises Dr. DeSilva.

These practices have physiological benefits as well. Dr. Christopher Willard, faculty at Harvard Medical School and author of “Growing Up Mindful affirms that “spending a lot of time with children in the early years helps develop the brain so it can respond more efficiently to stress and mental health issues if they arise in later years.”

4 | The real cause is untraceable

The causes of teen suicide are often unknowable and worse, untraceable. Experts agree that many factors contribute to mental health issues. Meredith Rene Chapman, M.D, a psychiatrist at Children’s Health GENECIS program in Dallas, who specializes in helping teens with gender dysmorphia, explains that “apart from health issues like chronic pain or physical pain, chronic anxiety left untreated can exacerbate the tendencies for suicide. When a youth’s ability to cope is overwhelmed by stressors, the risk of suicide increases manifold.”

5 | Substance is an accelerator

Adolescence is a strange mix of invincibility and vulnerability. Teenagers are more than willing to push the limits on risky behaviors, merely as a mechanism to establish their own identities. Many teens experience the rush of alcohol and marijuana for the very first time, and the experience could mean the beginning of a vortex.

Dr. DeSilva goes on to explain, “Substance abuse and intoxication increases the risk of suicide 60-80%. The substance does not matter – it could be a depressant like alcohol, or a stimulant like cocaine. Intoxication alters a person’s ability to keep a realistic perspective and see options. Particularly in teenagers, when they have a sense of invincibility coupled with their lack of experience that there are multiple ways to solve current problems and manage their feelings, they are at particular risk of attempting suicide.” 

6 | The word is not taboo

Most parents seem to talk to teens about sex, college, money – but to bring up suicide is taboo. Understandably, there is a certain reluctance on the part of parents to broach this hideous topic, but parents need to know that the more it is openly spoken about, the less taboo it is. As Zalewski reassures us, “Broaching the subject is not going to create suicidal thoughts in someone who doesn’t already have them. This has been established in research multiple times.”

7 | The circle is indispensable

One of the best tactics to detect suicidal tendencies is to make friends with your child’s friends. Get to know their circles. Invite them over. Organize get-togethers.

Here’s Zalewski again: “90% of the time I find a child who is suicidal, it’s because a friend of the child has tipped me (or another adult, who then calls me) off. Often, the suicidal child is making statements on social media that are scaring their friends. But again, these kids are more likely to come to you if they know they can approach you. These tips can save lives!”

8 | The role of schools is not to be taken lightly

It’s not a myth that the teen brain undergoes real changes in the brain during this time. One of the most important considerations for schools would be a later start time in the morning. This could also be one of the easiest adjustments to make. 

According to Dr. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep expert and author of “Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic,” teenagers require significantly more sleep than adults during this growth phase. “There is a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide in sleep-deprived teenagers,” affirms Dr. Rosenberg.

Even though it may seem eerie to equip schools with suicide-prevention experts, especially after the infamous Palo Alto suicide clusters, schools need to build better systems for imparting coping skills to kids.

“Schools need to institute a better screening method for suicidal tendencies among children,” says Dr. Willard, encouraging schools to build a conscious effort around preventing stress and competition around academic performance.

Parents can certainly help. As counterintuitive as it may seem, revel in your child’s failure. Make your child’s failures as important as their successes, as this will shift the focus to the effort rather than on the results. As several studies have pointed out, cultivating this “growth mindset” is the key to building the cornerstone quality of resilience – especially for children at a fragile point in their lives.

9 | Eliminate the stigma

Another huge factor is the stigma around mental health. Dr. DeSilva says, “If a teenager broke his or her leg, he would have no issue going to a hospital and getting treatment for the fracture. Symptoms of depression are not treated the same way. Teaching kids about mental health and symptoms and normalizing treatment the same way as for physical symptoms is the key to their telling their family or friends about their painful emotions.”

One of the ways to do this is to have a strategic plan for how to handle substance abuse, bullying, and depression. Having a licensed therapist associated with the schools to consult on these issues regularly will help. A curriculum invested in teaching students basic emotion-regulation skills is also a must-have.

10 | Identify the role of society

To be sure, a society whose children want to kill themselves needs a lot of work. Even a small shift towards the positive can yield big results.  

Dr. DeSilva muses, “Perhaps (devoting) a segment on the daily news to local school activities and children’s contributions – as we do to professional sports teams or the local politics – will make me watch the news again!” Giving responsibility to kids significantly reduces their risk of depression.

And let’s not underestimate this statistic: “Guns are used in approximately half the suicides,” Zalewski points out. Guns definitely should not be in the hands of kids.

In a culture where nearly every other cause of death warrants a headline, somehow the disturbing phenomenon of young adults killing themselves is relegated to the back pages or goes unreported. The time for us to pay close attention to the emotional health of our society is now.

*Based on a true incident

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Adele's albums have soothed many hearts through hard times, and now she's going through a big relationship transition of her own.

The singer is separating from her husband Simon Konecki, the father of her 6-year-old son, Angelo James.

"Adele and her partner have separated," Adele's people wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Our hearts go out to Adele. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone any further explanation or discussion of her separation, but by announcing it publicly, she is shining a light on a family dynamic that is so common but not talked about as much as it should be: Co-parenting.

Parenting with an ex is a reality for so many mothers. According to the Pew Research Center, "the likelihood of a child – even one born to two married parents – spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is on the rise."

Angelo James' experience will be similar to many of his peers.

"Increases in divorce mean that more than one-in-five children born within a marriage will experience a parental breakup by age 9, as will more than half of children born within a cohabiting union," Pew notes.

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Adele and Konecki already know a thing or two about how co-parenting works, as Konecki has an older child from a previous relationship.

They can make this work because so many parents are making this work. The reality is, two parents can still be a family, and be a team for their child without being romantic partners.

Decades ago, co-parenting after a divorce wasn't the norm, and a body of research (and the experience of a generation of kids) has changed the way parents do things today. Today, divorce isn't about the end of a family. It's about the evolution of one.

Research suggests joint physical custody is linked to better outcomes for kids than divorce arrangements that don't support shared parenting and that divorced couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse"(so, are friends, basically) are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Co-parenting is good for kids, and clearly, Adele and Konecki are committed to being a team for Angelo James.

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If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success. In 2017, he implemented free two- and four-year public colleges for New Yorkers, and now Cuomo is adding a budget proposal that would provide on-site childcare at community colleges.

Under the proposal, single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring and help when applying to four-year schools. It's the kind of idea that could be a game changer for parents in New York state.

Currently, childcare centers are subsidized for student-parents but can still cost parents $50-$60 a week; under Cuomo's budget proposal, childcare would be free. Students who are already enrolled in similar programs acknowledge that the benefits are enormous.

"As a single parent of two children going to school full time, I wouldn't be able to come to school and afford for childcare," says Michelle Trinidad, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and parent to a 4 and 5-year-old. "Thank goodness for BMCC Early Childhood Center that is very much affordable. It gives me the opportunity to advance my career and be confident that my son is in good hands. School is hard enough on its own, having reliable child care means a lot to me and my children."

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The plan is a part of Cuomo's 2019 women's justice agenda, legislation that addresses the gender wage gap, as well as economic and social justice for all New York women. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, which has doubled since 2000. Additionally, that same study found that 4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their dependent care obligations.

"This is an exciting initiative for New York that addresses a critical need, and if implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of society, especially for the next generation," says Ryan Lee-James, PhD an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University. "I view this initiative as both a direct and indirect pathway to address the well-documented achievement gap between children reared in poverty and those growing up with higher income families, as it provides moms, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, to further their education and thus, afford their children more opportunities."

Additionally, many view campus childcare as a safe haven for college students. "During my 18 years working in campus childcare, I have witnessed how the student-parents can complete their courses and stay focused by having childcare on campus," says Sori Palacio, a Head Teacher at BMCC Early Childhood Center. "Parents usually express how thankful they are for having their children traveling with them to school as well as having their children nearby while they complete their degree. They concentrate in academic work without worrying about their child's wellbeing. This service helps the entire public by preparing more people to serve the community."

Parents have so many barriers when it comes to accessing higher education, but free childcare could be a game changer that benefits multiple generations.

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