When home is hurtful

14-year old Adya* was on the verge of taking a medication overdose. She felt worthless and unwanted – tired of constantly being criticized at home and mercilessly teased at school. Struggling with these feelings, she called Kids Help Phone and was connected with a professional counsellor.

Through a risk assessment, Counsellor Liz learned that Adya* was holding the pills she was thinking about taking. Liz asked Adya to take them into another room so that Liz would know Adya was safe while they continued to talk. Then Liz listened to Adya’s heart-wrenching description of the disparaging abuse she faced at home.

When home is hurtful

While encouraging Adya to identify ways she’d been coping with until now, Liz learned that Adya’s grandmother was a big support. Liz role played with Adya a conversation she could have with her grandmother to let her know just how bad things had gotten at home.

They also talked about immediate coping strategies, such as asking to be excused from the family supper table, where the put-downs often began. Adya assured Liz this was the first time she’d ever contemplated suicide, and left the conversation with a strong safety plan in place should she have those feelings again.

*These stories are based on actual calls with a child and a Kids Help Phone counsellor. The name of the child, as well as the identifying details of the call, have been changed to protect their anonymity and confidentiality.

Read more newsletter articles:
When the supporter needs support
The impact of abuse on youth mental health
“I wish there had been someone there for me.”
The safety plan
Counsellor's Corner: Why youth counselling is my calling