Over the weekend, I sat in a church pew, surrounded by sadness, unanswered questions, mourning, guilt, and despair. I sat there dumbfounded trying to piece it all together, but nothing made sense. Tears rolled down my checks and I felt pain and such compassion for my friend. She sat towards the front, looking strong but broken. We were gathered to celebrate the life of her teenage son. He had taken his life, and left this world too early. Her beloved, funny, kind, and sensitive son committed suicide.
It was devastating to watch the pain as the service took place. I sat there and I prayed. I prayed for my friend, for her family, but I also prayed for the kids I work with everyday. I realized sitting in that pew, we don't talk enough about suicide, we don't talk enough about self-inflicted pain (cutting), and we don't talk nearly enough about suicide ideation.
Oddly enough, I started watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I was hooked, it was like watching the high school drama be portrayed on the big screen. It was like watching my kids roam the uncertainties of high school and seeing the world from their eyes. The series is difficult to stomach and might shock the hell out of some people. Some adults might be horrified about the drugs, alcohol, sex, and bullying. In this new world, bullying can happen to anyone and does not have to be so overt or seen. In the series Hannah, was liked by some peers, she was known, she was pretty, she had two parents that loved her and each other. What Hannah didn't have was the support of one person to share her dark thoughts and help her push through these difficult times. She didn't have someone to help her through her depression. The weird thing is we don't realize that there is a ton of teens out there still going to school, participating in after school activities, and they are extremely depressed.
Regardless of your thoughts about the Netflix series, it is closer to teens reality that we can image. Naked pictures, false rumors, name calling, peer pressure sexual assault, sexual uncertain encounters, and scorned friendship can be too much for a teen to process. The pressure teenagers face is incredibly intense and quite terrifying. Teens also don't have the cognitive development to understand the repercussions of their actions. This is why it is important to talk about this difficult and uncomfortable topic. I sadly know a little too much as 1 of my 5 kids I work with has talked about harming themselves or ending their life. So we need to start talking about all this to create small changes that will have a larger impact on our youth.
Below are quotes from some of my students. These are their words, their pain, and their thoughts. Here are my 13 reasons why we need to talk about suicide to our kids:
- "Part of me wants to die, parts of me wants to live, and part of me wants to recover"
- "The tears, the desperate cries for help, but no one seems to hear."
- "I am so lonely"
- "I get lost inside my mind. Replaying the painful memories of my childhood"
- " Sometimes I feel like nobody likes me, nobody wants me, nobody needs me, and nobody cares..."
- "No one cares, they are just pretending..."
- " I am a disappointment to everyone"
- " There is too much yelling, I just need the quiet"
- " I am tired of feeling ugly and fat."
- "I give myself all the pain thinking I deserve it...I am not sure why I do that"
- "Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be happy with myself"
- " I don't want to wake up anyone, I don't want to get out of bed, and I don't want to disappoint anyone anymore."
- "Everyday suicide goes higher on my list of options, on how to solve my problems"
From my experience to yours, I hear the voices of many teens. They feel misunderstood, lonely, scared, alone, saddened, and they are trying to protect us from their own pain. They fear sharing their darkness to their parents and loved ones. They are ashamed and we need to eliminate the shame to help them.
If we can reach more of these kids, be compassionate, we can save them from the pain. We can save their life.
Until Next Time...