This post may have trigger warnings surrounding issues of suicide and other things. Please be advised before reading and proceed with caution.
Ok, so I want to talk about an issue that is usually whispered about. I want to address this subject because it seems so…dominating in the culture of our youth today. I am cautiously broaching this subject today because on Thanksgiving evening, the loved one of a loved one made the tragic decision to take his life. And my heart hurts so much for this family; I pray that by sharing some today, maybe, just maybe one life might be saved. One life changed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Teen-Suicide-010.aspx) “suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds, and the SIXTH leading cause of death for 5-14 year olds”. THIRD and SIXTH leading causes…this is not ok! This should break your heart so much more than who won the presidency, what someone’s sexual orientation is, and what the leading cause of divorce is. Our children are dying, and more die from suicide than cancer and heart disease combined according to the U.S. Census (http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/129_death_and_death_rates_by_age.html). Almost 4% of our teens are feeling so lost that they SUCCESSFULLY (note that word, these stats don’t cover attempts) take their own lives. That may seem like a low percentage, but to put it into perspective, I emailed a company the other day regarding a defect in their clothes. The defect has been found in over 3% of their clothing which is a legitimate reason to address the issue and repair it as well as revamp their quality control. Friends, it is time to address this issue and repair it as well as revamping quality (of life) control.
Now, I am not of the mentality that the world needs to walk around with safety pins so we can recognize who is and isn’t nice, I am actually of the mentality that all people should just be considerate. AND, if you are a Christian, you REALLY need to rethink how you are treating others considering the greatest commandment after loving God is to love our neighbors as ourselves! Would you be a bully to yourself? No…well don’t bully someone else. Would you talk down to yourself? No…well stop talking down to others. You don’t agree with someone, that is OK! It really is, (this goes for Christians and mankind in general) but don’t persecute someone for their view. If you are right, gently rebuke, don’t trash someone and call them names and beat them down until they feel they no longer have a place in this world. GOD created this world, not us. GOD decides who is here and who has a place, and friend, if you are here then you have a place. Please believe me.
I am going to be open with something right this moment that I may regret later and that I have NEVER opened up about…I have briefly mentioned it to my husband and a few other key people, but I want to be brutally honest right now. This is raw emotion here, this is me reaching out trying to let you know that if you feel alone, I too have felt that and I am here for you. When I was in the early days of my high school era I began cutting myself. This began with a mechanical pencil with a metal tip and me carving letters into my leg. I don’t know what prompted me to start this; I know I was hurting so bad inside that I actually relished the pain on the outside. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never felt it, but the pain actually made me feel better; I thought I was healing my heart by hurting my skin. Looking back and knowing now what I didn’t know then, I was in need of not only someone to talk to, but attention.
Though I did my cutting in private and had good excuses and hid my wounds well, I found attention when I was hurt. I was depressed. There were signs, I am sure there were signs. I never made an attempt on my life, but I would be lying to myself if I said the thought never crossed my mind. I tried to imagine the world without me in it; who would be better off, who might miss me, who would cry, and sometimes in my teenage mind, it seemed better off without me.
I share this because I know the basic mentality toward suicide is that the victim is often selfish. That they don’t think of how this will affect their loved ones and how hurt people will be and what they left behind. Friends that is not what is crossing the mind of someone who is hurting; you know what is crossing their minds? How they keep messing up; how they want to be away from the pain they can’t escape in reality, how they are tired of being abused, how they just can’t cope with life anymore and it would benefit the world if they were no longer in it.
I can’t speak for the young man who took his life thus prompting this particular piece of writing. I do not know him personally, though I have met him. I don’t know what led him to it, but I am sure it wasn’t selfishness; he was probably thinking of making it easy for someone else which is the opposite of being selfish. Something else I can speak for, and this is to all teens who are victims of suicide, they do not think the way we do as adults which is why I say without a doubt that this young man was the very opposite of selfish. I am going to say something that may seem to contradict this, but it is my opinion: a teenager is meant to be selfish. That is EXACTLY how the mind of a teenager works, so maybe every teen suicide victim thinks they can’t handle something anymore so they take their life. That is how their brain is wired, which is why, dear friends, it is IMPERATIVE that we are aware of this problem, we address it, and we STOP BEING AFRAID TO SAY SOMETHING!
STOP being afraid to say something if you notice a drastic change in behavior and attitude and performance in the life of a teen (or anyone for that matter) and report it; saving their life may mean they get mad at you, deal with that later. Save their life now. I would much rather lose a friendship to doing the right thing than a friend losing their life because I was afraid to speak up. We MUST CHANGE THIS IN OUR CULTURE! We must be the ones to stop writing off depression as teen angst and something they will “grow out of”. Collectively, we must address this issue head on with more love and less judgment.
We must address it first by raising our children in a way which shows them that it is 1) ok to be different and 2) NOT OK to make fun of people for being different. And parents, I am addressing you (myself included) now because the parents and family of this young man have said this several times which means it is something to be reiterated: PAY ATTENTION TO SOCIAL MEDIA. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD’S FRIENDS. Be the nosy parent. Be the annoying parent. Be THAT parent who is all up in your child’s biz. They may despise you for it now, but when they have children they will understand and thank you for it. You are not meant to be their friend right now anyway; you are supposed to be the nosy one. You are supposed to hack their phones and know their passwords and follow them on dates. This is all part of that gig.
So, dear society, dear friends, dear Hillary and Trump supporters: STOP WITH THE DAGGUM HATE ALREADY. QUIT SAYING ALL YOU WANT IS LOVE THEN SPREADING HATE! QUIT HATING SOMEONE BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM. Funny thing, God made us all different, yet we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
So, this is to all who are hurting. You are worth it. You are loved. You are important. You are special. You are unique. You are amazing.
“Once upon a time life was so innocent, somewhere along the line your smile came and went. They made you feel like you just don’t measure up, they try to steal your light, but you are a treasure of the maker of the stars. See once upon a time, there was a secret place where Heaven’s hand designed even those freckles on your face. Some things you’d rather trade; some things you’d try to fix Love has one thing to say “it’s perfect just the way it is”.
You don’t have to wonder you are wonderfully made. Perfectly beautiful in every way, wonderfully wonderfully made. You’re anything but typical it’s true; they ain’t seen anybody quite like you. GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE. You are wonderfully wonderfully made.
(Matthew West, 2012).
The following link will take you to a website with suicide hotlines in every state:
Please, if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety, or having thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide I urge you to tell someone and call 1-800-273-8255.
You are not alone, sweet friend. Please, give them a call and more than anything, please know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your situation does not have to be like this forever. You can find a way out with the help of a friend or loved one or simply an open ear. Please, please know, you are loved.
And to the family of the young man who prompted this article, should you ever read this, I am in tears for your pain and for the pain he must have felt as well. Please, to all of you, you are also not alone. Don’t suffer this tragedy in silence or alone. Someone will talk to you, I will talk to you. You are hurting and sad and devastated; there aren’t even enough words to cover the anguish you are feeling, but you do not have to feel them alone. Please, find a safe person. Find a person to talk to who you don’t feel the need to hide your emotions from. Find someone who you don’t feel the need to be strong for so that you can grieve. Don’t go at this alone. You are not alone.
And to those of you reading, please join with me in prayer for this hurting family.