That’s the message we need to start getting out to teens these days they may be considering ending their lives.
There’s a sad story out there that, even though it happened in a distant locale and I have no connection with it, got my attention this morning. I came upon a FB post from one of my friends, a former blogger who was one of my regular readers before life got in the way and she had to hang it up. Apparently at the school her daughters attend, a 13-year old boy shot himself to death in one of the bathrooms. A kid that was a friend of one of her daughters.
I followed a link to the local news where it happened. There is speculation over if bullying was a problem in the kid’s life. The school administrators didn’t seem to think so, but some of the students had different opinions. Personally I would give a little more credibility to the students, particularly if a number of them said the same thing, but I digress.
And of course there was handwringing (particularly in the comments) over how he managed to get hold of a gun and bring it into school, would he have done it had he not had access to a gun, does the school need metal detectors or random searches, gun violence, yada yada yada. Which of course totally misses the point.
The point is that we don’t know what was going on in this kid’s head. Bullying may or may not have been an issue, and the use of a gun was totally irrelevant, he would’ve found some way if he was determined enough. What matters is that he was unable to comprehend that middle school and adolescence, however trying the experience is, is only temporary. There will be bad days and there will be terrible days, and sometimes they may continue for days or even weeks, but eventually the bad times will end and things will get better. And it is within everyone’s power to make it happen. All they have to do is somehow make it through the darkness long enough, and the light will come through.
I know this sounds awfully simplistic, particularly to a kid that’s really hurting and stuck in a particularly dark place. But their lives are just beginning, and eventually not only the bad times of school will pass, they will eventually acquire the tools as an adult to deal with life as it happens. They just need to be convinced to not give up and extinguish any chance of finding that light in their lives. And also consider the fact that, in attempting to end their pain, they may well be causing considerable pain to others. Parents, siblings, extended family, friends. Nobody wants or deserves that kind of pain, and I don’t believe anyone has the right to inflict it.
I shared some thoughts on teenage suicide in another post a few years back, and they’re still perfectly valid. And an even better take on the subject and what kind of life can await those who endure through the bad times can be found here. Even though the second link is a little more geared for adults, I think it’s good reading for anyone.
I wish I could’ve talked to that kid. Had sat him down one on one, and told him how much my middle school life sucked too. That I was small for my age and socially immature, and it was a recipe made in hell for a middle schooler back in the early 80’s. That I was picked on and bullied and made fun of, and was miserable more times than not. That things improved somewhat when I made it to high school, but there were still difficult times and I didn’t really break out of it until after I graduated. That there were times where I too felt like checking out for good. That on a couple occasions, I actually fantasized about the nightmare scenario which all too many school shooters have made reality in recent years, just to make myself heard. And instead of making those irrevocable choices that would have had awful consequences, I chose to persevere. I found ways to deal with my angst, even if it meant crawling into a safe shell of books and wargames. I found people to talk to who would listen. I found friends who, in their own ways, were misfits like me. Above all I chose not to take any action that would hurt others, particularly those I cared about. Because I knew that if I could make it to June of 1986 (my graduation) that the petty backbiting world of school would end, a new world of fresh opportunities would open up, and nobody would care just how much of a loser I was in school.
I wish someone could’ve talked to that kid. Friend, teacher, counselor, pastor, priest, bishop, rabbi. Or trusted family member. Or the parents, even if they couldn’t reach the kid, had taken him to someone who could. And told him that he mattered to someone, and that as he got older he’d matter to far more. And that he didn’t have the right to hurt those people that he mattered to, not his family or friends. That life is a cycle, and eventually the good times will balance out the bad. That there is always light somewhere in the darkness. And we should always fight against the darkness, even if we have to enlist help from others because we are too weak ourselves.
To anyone, particularly any teenager, that somehow may stumble upon my insignificant corner of the blogiverse, understand that each period in life is temporary. Bad times will someday be good times, and by checking out you will permanently close the door to untold joys and rewards. Just find a way to make it through the hard stuff, and eventually it’ll get better.