Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Suicide Hits Home

I need to talk about something that's been hurting my heart for a long time. There may be no eloquence in this post; it may not even flow real well, but my emotions are raw. Yesterday for the third time in the last month, a male student in our community chose to end his life. Three children (yes, high school kids are still just children) have commited suicide, and two of them my daughter knew. Exactly two years and 11 days ago, our family was rocked by suicide, so each time the news has come so close to home, we relive the pain, the questions, & the anger all over again.

As I was reading posts on FB this morning, there's an outcry that the school administration needs to do something immediately! I'd like to make another suggestion. We all need to do something. While teachers & administrators are a wonderful support, the responsibility cannot be solely theirs to bring about change.

We've quickly become a society that shifts the blame to the "higher ups". I believe the change needs to begin with you and me. I do not know the reasons behind why these boys decided that death was less painful than life, but you don't have to look far to have a few ideas.

Before I go any further, understand something. I have never been nor will I ever be a perfect parent. I have made mistakes, & so have my children. But one thing we talk about time & again in our home is how we treat other people. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the norm. The hallways of schools, from elementary on up, have become a cut throat environment of competitiveness between our young people. Sit at ANY athletic contest & you can hear grown adults bad mouthing children. There is little tolerance for anyone that does not meet the accepted level of "cool" or the expectations of onlookers. Many of our youth have resorted to proving their worth through the degrading of others through straight out hateful words. Sticks & stones nothing...words hurt & tend to embed themselves into the heart & mind of a child, festering into a twisted reality they begin to perceive as truth.

And it begins at home.

We no longer teach humility; we teach being the best. We no longer teach serving others; we teach entitlement. We no longer teach encouragement; we teach that everyone is our competition. We no longer teach compassion & empathy; we teach judgement.

And thus we have created an environment for ourselves & our children of no love, no tolerance, no acceptance...NO HOPE.

So you might be thinking, "Well, yeah, maybe there's a bit of that going on, but not every person that commits suicide is feeling bullied. Some are mentally ill." Speaking of no tolerance...

Let's face it. There's a HUGE stigma with mental illness. We have not created an environment where people feel safe in saying, "I think I might have a problem. These thoughts are overtaking my every moment. I can't fight them. I'm scared. I need help." Please. It makes people uncomfortable. If someone becomes physically ill, we rally around them; if someone is mentally ill, we don't want to know. We'd prefer they'd just pull themselves up by the bootstraps & fake it til they make it.

What if we became communities of people that fostered an atmosphere of tolerance? What if we instilled in our children humble, empathic hearts that looked to encourage one another? What if people felt safe enough to share their hurts & vulnerabilities? What if we were a people willing to climb in the ditch to help bring someone out?

I'm not trying to be simplistic or naive. Life is hard, but must we be contributors to it or always look for "the administration" to fix it? No. I think we need to take responsibility for how we're raising our children, how we're treating the people we come across every single day, & what our attitudes are towards those who don't seem to be just like us.

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

So what will your legacy be?


Jo's Corner said...

Hi Dardi ~ I'm sorry to hear about the loss of another young life in your community. The timing of your post comes at a time in my life that has been full of sadness, hey, plain old depression. And, I have no shame in sharing that. I have found that "Christians" can often be the most critical of folks with any mental illness. Makes me even sadder! At a time when we need to draw together to surround a hurting Sister or Brother, it is often when uncomfortable feelings pull us away.

Dardi, I have dealt with a suicide in my family. My 32 year old brother in law, Troy, shot himself in the heart. It's been 17 years, but not ONE day goes by that I don't think about him and miss him. The unexpected tragedy that changes so many lives needs to stop! All people need to be able to reach out for help. Someone to listen, listen without judgement.

Yesterday FB started a "safety net" for any user who feels suicidal. They are making it possible to chat with someone who can provide a listening ear and help. It's a start for so many folks who use social networking sites!

In your post, I am thankful for your words to parents! Children MUST learn compassion and kindness at Home! It is never okay to Bully! That is for children, teens, but especially adults! I watched a talk show last week about a young teen who was Bullied by of all people, her Teachers! This 14 year old girl with Special Needs was Bullied for several years by the very people who she was forced to be with for 7 hours a day! Her parents finally sent her to school with some type of recorder and were devastated by what they heard! I sobbed as I listened to the Dad, as he wept while sharing the story.

I apologize for the very long comment! Know that I will be lifting young people in your community in prayer. Keep talking about this subject. So many need to hear it! Hugs ~ Jo

Jim and April said...

beautifully written and totally agree. I too live local and just heard the news about that. You could not have said it better.

From This Moment said...

Thank you! Thank you very much! I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Jen said...

Well said, Dardi. AMEN!

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

Powerfully said!

I agree with "Jo" (above) that "Christians can often be the most critical." Sadly, our family has been judged, ostracized, bullied, gossiped about, etc ... mostly by other Christian Adoptive Families. I know how painful it is as a mature Christian adult ... and the pain is multiplied 1000% when you're a teen.

I, too, "know" suicide. I gave my life to the Lord at age 15 ... during a suicide attempt. It is only because of the Lord, that I am alive today.

Praying for you all as you process this most difficult situation.


Meredith said...

My friend teaches at your kids high school.. and my heart just broke as I read her facebook status yesterday.

Suicide rocked our little world in 2000 and you never really lose the reflex emotions that come with it.

Hugs and prayers.

Buffy said...

The following was posted this evening on Facebook from a mom who was on noon duty on one of the playgrounds in our town:
one kid comes up and says another messed up his shirt, I said, well Im sorry but I didn't see it and his shirt looks fine, he said just wait til after school, he would get even....I said, now that's not right that is bullying, your fine so leave him alone....he said, Im not leavin it alone...and maybe if I make his life miserable enough he'll go kill himself.... I said wouldn't want that to happen, you'd feel horrible if that happened....he said, No I wouldn't the world would be a better place without him in it....and he walks away....these are elementary students.... Now how should I have handled this better???
Plus the kid told me his mom would let him beat the crap outta the other kid cause his shirt was from American Eagle and was worth $75.... for one little spot on it.... I wish I woulda gotten his name and talked to the prinicpal, but there was so much going on I just now thought of it again....

I was shocked and saddened by the culture that seems to have penetrated the minds of some of the children in our elementary schools. Something needs to be done but will it come in time to rescue the next child? I pray it does.

Rebecca said...

I agree. This is one of the many reasons we have chosen to adopt... We are hoping that it enables our family to become more compassionate towards "different" people, and I'm not talking about race. This is a very hard time to be raising children. Entitlement is an American cancer and it's destroying us from the inside out. We too had a close friend commit suicide a couple of years ago. He was one of our pastors sons. Married and had a beautiful little girl. But he grew up in a wealthy environment where too much emphasis was put on the exterior things like fancy houses, cars, & handbags. He got into gambling and left his wife in a huge financial hole. He went missing and they found him dead in his house that had just been foreclosed on.