CINCINNATI -- A local counselor says a simple conversation could have the power to prevent tragedy.
Clinical counselor Dr. Shantel Thomas says she’s a mom first and a counselor second, so she worries about her two teenagers when they go to school.
“Are they going to be safe? Will they make it home? How are their friends? What are they thinking about,” Thomas said.
For Thomas, these emotions are high amid Wednesday’s shooting that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school. She said she understands firsthand how difficult these situations can be, but she said she has also seen positive outcomes from a simple conversation.
"I have known some children who have been saved from suicide or even doing something to harm themselves or someone else just by their friends telling their parent or a coach,” Thomas said.
Talking, breaking down barriers created by fear and listening are factors that Thomas believes can go a long way.
"Sometimes, the teenagers that come in here say, ‘I just need someone to listen. Stop talking to me. Stop talking at me,’” Thomas said.
Thomas said parents can also look for significant changes in personality or character traits if conversation is limited.
"If you notice those signs in your children or your children's friends then those should be cues or warning that something is not right,” Thomas said.
Thomas recommends talking with your child for at least 20 minutes a day and sharing a real connection to show that pain is normal, but the ways to release that trauma shouldn’t be harmful.
"Sharing can sometime help them to see that other people have gone through pain or trauma and they've overcome it and so can I,” Thomas said.