If suicide was a person, I would give them a hug. I would ask them to share their words with me. I would assure them that I was listening. I would help them make a plan to stay alive. I would try my hardest to make them laugh. I would hold their hand and tell them it’s ok to cry. I would remind them of their gifts and why they are so special, not only to me, but their families, and their community. I would say the word I LOVE YOU. I would say the words “you are not alone” and mean it.
Suicide is an epidemic within our communities and it has to stop now. It is a symptom of a larger sickness called HOPELESSNESS. There are many different programs, phone numbers, videos; websites out there intended to provide resources to you if you feel this way. Reach out when you need help. And reach out when others need help. Reach out when others don’t ask for it. It takes nothing from you if you give someone a smile, hold open a door or tell a friend they are important to you.
I want to say to all of you reading this that we don’t have to wait. We don’t have to wait for our young people to feel so bullied and alone that they begin to cut themselves. We don’t have to wait until they are sitting alone in a crowded room. We don’t even have to wait for them to ask for help. We don’t have to wait for the first attempt. We don’t have to wait to tell a young person we think they are funny; Or that they have a gift that the world desperately needs. We don’t have to wait to tell them that there are so many people that care about them.
We can model healthy relationships. We can make acts of kindness the order of the day. We can celebrate the positive choices young people make. We can condemn bullying when we see it. We can encourage our young people to ask for help, by asking them for help. We can cooperate on challenging issues. We can talk about the issues that are important to them. We can forgive their mistakes. We can ask questions. We can walk with integrity and role model the positive self-esteem that they too can achieve. We can listen.
We can listen to music to give ourselves hope. We can find artist like P!nk, or Lorenzo (@LorenzoRezzy) We can write our feelings down in a paper journal and then throw them away or burn them. We can encourage parents to watch their children’s social media use. Teachers can establish self esteem initiatives within the classroom and encourage healthy dialogues. We can accept young people for thhe adults that they choose to become.
At one point in our lives, we were all 15 (or are gonna be). This is a confusing time for everyone. We are trying to make sense of the world, figure out our own gifts, and where we are supposed to fit. We all had that crush on someone who just wouldn’t pay attention to us. Or worse, they did pay attention to us and broke our hearts. But I want you(th) to understand that a broken heart doesn’t mean the end of the world. There are billions of people on this planet, and inside of your chest, there is a heartbeat. That’s special. That’s a gift. And we have an opportunity today to turn things around if we stand together, walk together, cry together, ask for help together, laugh together and try together.
This young lady, Amanda Todd, has taken her life. It is too late for Amanda, but she gave us some clues; Some clues about the cruelty that is being perpetuated in our society. Its like the many young people in the Indigenous community who see no way out. Our families and parents have a huge role to play in making sure our youth feel respected and supported, but so do teachers; so do community members; so do strangers on the street; and so do you and I.
I was there. I could have been a statistic. But people wouldn’t have noticed the little 10 yr old nerdy kid that everyone called a faggot, right? They wouldn’t miss someone like me…or so I thought. Luckily, I was wrong. And luckily there was an adult who recognized I like reading. Who gave me a book, and on the inside of that cover wrote the words “I’m proud of you”. And because of her, I am alive today. I am grateful to Ms. Holmes for the example she set. She didn’t wait. And that’s why I’m not waiting, and neither should you.
(I am praying so hard right now, sending all of my energy and positivity to those who need it. I will light a smudge, and send my prayers to the sky and hope that they make it to where they are needed most. I will walk this talk, and most importantly, I will LOVE.)