When summer is over, it’s normal to hear about everything that’s going on at school. Shopping is one of those activities you hear about a lot in the meantime – after all, going to the store for new school clothes and accessories is fun for kids and parents alike.
But if you hear students discussing necklaces from the school’s collection, it’s important to note that this isn’t about a new piece of jewelry. Instead, it’s a dangerous phrase (which doesn’t seem dangerous at first glance) that you might hear in conversation or see on social media. So what exactly is a back-to-school defeat? We explain.
What Is a Back-to-School Necklace?
Urban Dictionary describes the “back to school” necklace as “another name for a loop”. This is related to the frustration you feel when school resumes.
Its use could be indicated by phrases like “I’m planning to get a back-to-school necklace,” “I can’t wait to receive the back-to-school necklace,” or “thinking about this back-to-school necklace.” I can’t wait to wear my “Back to School” necklace, this “Back to School” necklace is calling to me, etc.
So while the “Back to School” necklace sounds innocent enough to those who don’t know its true meaning, it’s actually a cry for help, because it’s the code of death by hanging.
But once parents become aware of the term, they can better help.
How Should Parents Approach This “Back to School” Setback With Their Children?
If you don’t know how to talk about it, Samantha Westhouse, LLMSW, a psychotherapist and social worker for Maternal and Child Health, recommends that your child lead the conversation. “Start off by saying, ‘I heard about this thing called a back-to-school necklace – do you know anything about it?’ She advises. “I believe that having a candid discussion is always beneficial. It’s always important to avoid judgment so that your child is comfortable sharing her feelings.”
Just trying to register can make a big difference. “Parents should feel empowered to talk to their children about mental health in general,” explains Emily Cavallari, LLMSW, school social worker and child and family therapist. And as for school interactions, she adds: “Each year, share a personal story about how you felt when you started school, especially when you experienced fear as a child. Let them know that you will help them deal with any difficulties. Feel the feelings or seek professional help if they need it.”
Why Are Children Expressing Such a High Level of Anxiety as the New School Year Draws Near?
Some of the concern is understandable, as students are expected to get used to the new norms after the summer months. “Going back to school can be overwhelming for many reasons,” Cavallari says. “Some students find it difficult to think of a new school, a new teacher, a new schedule, etc. Students go from a sleep and rest schedule to mornings and busy days.”
And often these difficulties seem insurmountable to students. Moreover, “more than 1 in 3 high school students had persistent emotions of depression or hopelessness in 2019, a 40% rise from 2009,” according to the CDC.
“I think it could be a combination of what looks like socialization on top of age in the last two years,” expiates Westhouse. “When we reflect back, a 13-year-old was 10 years old when we were all imprisoned. Literally they went to school and left the usual clubs, sports, and socializing. Mass shootings in schools and what we did. Add to that what we’ve experienced. In our world over the years. It all has an impact.”
What Red Flags Need Parents to Watch Out For?
“If someone uses this phrase, there’s a good chance they’re struggling with their mental health,” Cavallari says. The indicators you may notice [include] spending time alone, being distant, irritated, and sobbing lightly, depending on whether your child is truly considering suicide or is using the word as a cry for assistance and often , sleeping more than usual, sleep problems, loss of consciousness. Interest in things they used to enjoy, put things off, and generally change behavior.”
Cavallari notes that even if you haven’t heard your child use the phrase, it may be the phrase they use on their phone.They may get it through social media platforms or SMS messages, she claims. Parents need to be mindful of how much their kids use technology. Students of all ages can use this phrase and experience these feelings, so look for the signs in your children, from toddlers to teens.”
Should Students Know About Hearing or Using the Phrase “Back-to-School-necklace” Around Friends?
“Students should be aware that the use of this phrase is very serious,” warns Cavallari. “It is not normal to joke about self harm and especially suicide. If they really do experience these feelings, they should not be ashamed and seek help. If students use this phrase to their friends They should tell an adult about it, even their friend tells them not to do it.”
Westhouse agrees, adding that even if your child or teen gets over it quickly, they need to know that “it’s serious, even if they think it’s a joke. Phrases to address to school staff.” .
What Resources Are Recommended To Help Teens Going Back to School?
The first line of defense for youngsters might be their parents. The CDC recommends that parents “monitor their teens to encourage healthy decision-making,” “spend quality time with their teens and enjoy activities together” and participate in school life, either. By volunteering or communicating regularly with teachers and administrators.
Westhouse will also advocate for schools to implement student aid policies. According to the CDC, before the pandemic in 2019, “one in six youth had planned to commit suicide in the past year, a 44% increase from 2009.”
To help your child feel less overwhelmed when they return to school, Cavallari recommends preparing for school early by “organizing up, going to school/running on [your] schedule, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy meals.” “
Ultimately, knowledge is power, and knowing that this problem affects many children and teens means parents can be more aware and get more help. Westhouse and Cavallari recommend seeking the help of a physician, as well as using the new 988 suicide helpline, if necessary.