You never forget that girl. Maybe she
was your friend. Maybe she was your best friend. Maybe you barely knew her, but
the news hit you like a ton of bricks. You got the call. Or the text. Or you
heard in the halls: She killed herself.
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
BY KAREN THE EDITOR ON 11/22/2013 12:31:00 PM
POSTED IN dealing with depression, dealing with death, dealing with tragedy, therapy, Karen the editor, Dec/Jan 2014