There are so many young people struggling right now. There has been a rash of suicides in my community. Children that should be just beginning their life are ending it by their own hand. It has started an uncomfortable verbiage. Parents wondering how to prevent these tragedies from rippling inexplicably into their own homes.
There is much blame thrown around. Speculation on the myriad of factors that led to the deceased's final action. Ideas are volleyed back and forth, each of us hoping that by spilling out our thoughts and fears that this sickening feeling in our stomachs- all at once heavy and empty- will be assuaged. Of course, it is not. It never will be. A family, a town, a community, a school district will never be the same. We hold our breaths lest we accidentally whisper out our greatest fear- that this will not be the last one.
I don't know the crux of why depression among young people seems to be at an all time high. I cannot imagine that there is one factor along that must be changed to stop it. We could start speculating- bullying, social media, lonely latchkey kids, increased pressure at school, that electronics have formed a detachment in relationships...I'll bet that as you read that list, you added in some ideas of your own. We could go on all night.
What a do hear almost universally is "How could a child want to take his/her own life? What could possibly so bad in their life as middle school student?". I tell you within all honesty that these remarks floor me.
Have you forgotten?
The fishbowl that is middle school/high school? That it feels as though every nuance of your life is being seen and judged? Add in social media and cell phones and these children now have lost the opportunity for respite from overwhelming fishbowl of school.
That when you are young it feels that everything is going to be this way forever? You and I know, in hindsight, that of course those years don't last forever(thank God). But, do you remember the FEELING that it would. When even the span of days between weekends seemed endless?
The feeling of loneliness that accompanies puberty because you feel certain that you are alone in the fact that you are at the whim of your hormones and trapped inside a body that is changing so quickly that it no longer feels like your own?
When you didn't yet have complete control over your emotions?
How quickly a bit of gossip spread around the school and how it felt to find that your life had been fodder for the gossip mill?
Do you remember when the adults around you made a point to tell you regularly that "this is the best time of your life!"? I remember. I remember feeling that I was in such a bad place and if this was the best and it was all downhill from here, that was a horrific thought.
I do think that I had a pretty great childhood. I loved school most days, I had a wonderful family and friends. And, yet- I wouldn't call them the best days of my life. Not by far. I think our reflection often rubs our memories shiny.
Maybe your experience was wonderful. I hope it was. But, have we lost the ability to find compassion for the youngest among us?
If we remember our hardest times, can we drum up enough compassion to sprinkle over the young among us?
I wonder if we, as adults, were honest when we said that we know it might be bad now if it might ease the pain just a small bit. If we were to let kids know that this time of trouble will pass and they will move on to better times might they feel less alone.
This is not going to solve the problem. It really is a tiny bandaid on a gaping wound. But it is the only bandage that I have right now, it is one that we each have to give. We each are full of emotional bandaids and they are free for us to give.
It's really all I've got, Folks. It's the only teeny, tiny answer that I have right now. Simply, be kinder. Love harder. Don't minimize the problems of others even if we don't understand.
And, most importantly- if you are someone that is thinking of ending your own life, please please please reach out. To your parents, a trusted adult...or if you have no one personally- to the number below. I swear to you that you are not alone and that this time, whatever awful time you are going through, IS GOING TO PASS. There are far better times ahead- I swear it. I may have never met you, but I am pulling for you. Do not go through this alone.