What is a Back to School Necklace? All about this disturbing trend that parents should know

back to school necklace As summer begins to come to an end, it’s normal to hear all about back-to-school. Shopping is a common activity to hear about at this time; after all, going to the store to buy new school clothes and accessories is exciting for kids and parents alike.

But if you hear students talking about back-to-school necklaces, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not talking about a cute new piece of jewelry. Instead, it’s a worrisome phrase (that doesn’t seem alarming on the surface) that you may hear in conversation or see on social media. So what exactly is a back to school necklace? We explain.

What is a back to school necklace?

In Urban Dictionary, a back-to-school necklace is described as “another name for a noose. This is due to the utter desperation you feel when school starts again.”

Examples of its usage include, “I’m about to buy my back-to-school necklace,” “Can’t wait to get a back-to-school necklace,” “Thinking about that back-to-school necklace. “,” That back to school necklace is calling me, “I can’t wait to wear my back to school necklace,” etc.

So, although a back to school necklace sounds innocent enough to those unaware of its true meaning, it is actually a cry for help, as it is code for death by hanging.

But once parents know this term, they are in a better position to help.

How should parents talk to their children about this trending back-to-school necklace phrase?

If you’re unsure about how to discuss it, LLMSW Samantha Westhouse is a psychotherapist and maternal and child health social worker, recommends having your child lead the conversation. “Start by saying, ‘I heard about this thing called back-to-school necklaces-do you know anything about that?” she advises. I believe that having a candid discussion is always useful.. It’s always important to refrain from judgment so your child feels comfortable sharing how he or she is feeling.”

Simply making the effort to check in can go a long way. “Parents should feel confident in their ability to discuss mental health with their children. generally,” says school social worker and child and family therapist Emily Cavaleri, LLMSW. And regarding back-to-school conversations, she adds, “Share personal stories about how you felt especially if you experienced thoughts of fear as a youngster, about beginning school each year. Let them know that you will help them work through any feelings or get them professional help if needed.”

Why is there so much fear as students approach the start of the school year?

Students’ anxiety is reasonable as they prepare to return to school after the summer break and adjust to a new routine. “Going back to school can be overwhelming for a variety of reasons,” shares Cavaleri. “Some pupils find it difficult to adjust to ideas of a new school, instructor, timetable, etc. Students go from sleeping in late and having a relaxed schedule, to getting up early and having hectic days.”

And many times, these struggles feel insurmountable for students. After all, according to the CDC, “more than one in three high school students had persistent emotions of sorrow or hopelessness in 2019, a 40% increase since 2009.”

“I think it could be a combination of what socialization has looked like in the last couple of years in addition to age,” Westhouse expands. “If we think about it now, 13-year-olds were 10 when we were all locked up. [They were] attending school virtually and missing out on regular clubs, sports and socialization. Add in mass school shootings and what we’ve experienced in our world in the last few years. It all has an impact.”

What are some warning signs parents should watch for?

“If someone uses this phrase, there is a high probability that they are struggling with their mental health,” says Cavaleri. “Whether your child is seriously thinking about suicide or using this phrase as a cry for help, signs you may see [include] spending time alone, acting withdrawn, irritability, crying easily and frequently, sleeping more than usual, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, giving away belongings and, in general, a change in behavior.”

Even if you haven’t heard your child use this phrase, it may be a phrase they use on their phones, Cavaleri notes. “They may use it through text messages or social media platforms,” she says. Parents must keep track on their kids’ electronic usage. Students of any age may be using this phrase and having these feelings, so look for signs in your children, from toddlers to teen age.”

What information should children be aware of when they use or overhear the phrase “back to school necklace” among friends?

“Cavaleri cautions, “Students should realize that using this word is quite severe”. Joking about hurting themselves and especially committing suicide is not okay. If they really have these feelings, they should not feel ashamed and seek help. If students hear or see their friends use this phrase, they should tell an adult, even if their friend tells them not to.”

Westhouse agrees and says that even if your child or teen is quick to ignore it, he or she should know “that it’s serious, even if he or she thinks it’s a joke. I would encourage you to educate your child and if you notice their friends using the phrase to address it with school personnel.

What resources are recommended to help children and teens who are overwhelmed by the idea of going back to school?

Parents can be the first line of support for their children. The CDC advises parents to “spend time with their teen to promote healthy decision-making,” “supervise their teen to encourage teen enjoying shared activities,” and participate in school either by volunteering or communicating regularly with teachers and administrators.

Westhouse would also advocate that schools have a policy to help students. Before the epidemic in 2019, according to the CDC, “approximately 1 in 6 teens reported formulating a suicide plan in the prior year, an increase of 44% since 2009.”

To help your child feel less overwhelmed with going back to school, Cavaleri recommends preparing early for school by “getting organized, visiting the school/walking [their] schedule if allowed, getting sleep and eating healthy.”

Ultimately, knowledge is power, and knowing that this is a problem that affects many children and adolescents means parents can be more aware and seek additional help. West house and Cavaleri recommend seeking therapy and using the new 988 suicide hotline if necessary.

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