I wasn't exactly sure what the best topic for my first real post in this blog should be. This blog is primarily going to be about sexual assault, howver, I think this topic will be a little different. There was news today of yet another teen suicide in the Des Moines area. According to news reports, it was the 2nd one at this particular school in the last month, and the 2nd one in as many weeks in the general area. It seems like almost every week anymore we are hearing about a teen suicide, attempted suicide or school shooting somewhere in the nation. This causes me to think about when I was in high school - I don't know if I ever remember hearing about teen suicide at my school, and (this is going to date me), I graduated from high school before Columbine so school shootings were virtually unheard of. Now, I don't know what type of problems this latest suicide victim was facing, but clearly he felt there was no other way to deal with them. When you think about it, that's really sad. I'm sure, just like every suicide victim, there are people hurting over losing this young person far too soon. He is someone's son, someone's friend. And yet, he felt like he had no one to turn to.
I can't say that I know exactly what it is like to contemplate suicide. I'm thankful to say that even with all I have been through, I never hit that low of a point. But I was a victim of some very intense bullying while I was in high school. This actually went beyond kids giving other kids a hard time. It involved teachers and administrators doing some of the bullying as well. It's amazing the effect that bullying has on a person. For me, it caused me to realize that I didn't know who I could trust in my high school. In one particular incident, one of the bullies took a hold of me by my shirt collar, slammed me against a locker, and began yelling at me. I don't remember what exactly he was saying, only that I was trying to keep myself from crying or letting him see how scared I was. I tried to live by the motto to never let them see my fear. Eventually, the kid let go of me, but during the time that he was holding on to me and yelling at me, I found myself looking over his shoulder, knowing that if I looked him in the eye he would probably see just how scared I was. During this, I looked over his shoulder to see our choir teacher - a teacher I very much respected - look directly at me, look me in the eye, turn his head and walk back into his room! He was making a statement - "I am not on your side." I was floored, I truly didn't know who I could trust at my school, even among the teachers. This type of bullying continued throughout my entire Junior year. I ended up graduating at the end of that year to escape the bullying. So I do understand feeling like you have no where to turn, or there is no end to what you are going through.
Now, like I said, I never seriously contemplated suicide. I'd love to say it was because I had the confidence to know that life would get better if I only gave it time. In reality, it was more because I saw suicide as letting the bullies win. And even though I was a pretty non-assertive, shy person, I was still competitive at heart. I was not going to let the bullies win! However, there were some times during that very difficult year when I found myself wondering what people would think if I "just wasn't here anymore". I would walk through the halls of my highschool and wonder "Would they care if something happened and I died before tomorrow? Would any of them (besides my parents) miss me? Would they even realize I was gone?" Sadly, I honestly believed that the answers to these questions for my fellow high school students would be ... "No."
If you do nothing today, take the time to show a young person in your life that you care. Make sure they know that they would be missed if they weren't here tomorrow. If you are a younger person, take a look around you. See that kid who seems all alone. The one who maybe you walk by in the hallway and almost don't notice they are there. Notice them. Say "Hi" to them. Show them you'd notice if they weren't there. You never know what type of difference it might make.
If you are considering suicide - know that you are not alone. There is hope available. The link below has several national and Iowa Hotline numbers on it. Call. Talk. Get Help. Live.