How to help before it's too late...even if you don't know there's a problem
I was a senior when a pretty freshman (I will call her Laura but that’s not her real name) hung up the phone from a totally normal chat with boyfriend, wrote a note to her family and another to her friends, then took her own life.
The contents of the notes were shocking in some ways (Laura, who never seemed to have a care in the world, had been suffering from what would now be recognized as long-term depression but never showed it really nor told anyone). And unshocking in others (she felt an enormous pressure to live up to the academic, athletic and social expectations she thought people placed on her).
My school of 1,600 was deeply saddened by her loss and just heartsick for her family—but the whole place was also thrown into a panic. Parents suddenly went digging into their daughter’s diaries. Teachers and counselors went into overdrive to ensure other kids who might be suffering had resources. Administrators took a serious look at pressure placed on students (our high school was top ranked at the time and not for no reason).
But the worst part may have been the thoughts swirling through my head. Laura was just like us. Could my best friend be next? Could I be next? As strange as this sounds, suicide was suddenly like a cold we all feared we could catch.
On the one hand, I wasn’t really worried about myself. One of the best qualities I inherited from my dad is the (borderline delusional) belief that tomorrow is always going to be a better day. If you dropped me in the middle of the ocean, I can promise you I’d be convinced I could reach shore. I’d kick, paddle, kick, paddle until I could kick and paddle no more.
But on the other hand, I also know how some days can be feel incredibly dark. How fights with friends or slipping grades or worries about your family can feel overwhelming. How sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any way out of a hopeless situation.
We all would have done anything to help Laura. But sadly, even all these years after her loss, there’s no still surefire way to pinpoint to those who might be suffering in silence.
What can we girls do? One, know there is always another option other than suicide. As low as life can feel sometimes, tomorrow is coming—and it’s going to be better. If you are hurting, our special report has resources you can contact right now to turn things around. Two, reach out to others. Our article has information that might help you help someone who is sending stronger and stronger signals. Offering kindness to friends and strangers alike is one of the easiest ways to make others feel better about themselves and help them move past their problems.
Even problems you don’t know are there.
xo Karen the Editor