Your life matters
Last week, our little community was rocked by the apparent suicide of a 15-year-old Green Forest High School student. When we got the news, everyone at our office was heartbroken. Some of us wondered how this could happen. I didnít wonder about that at all.
I understand what causes tragedies like this. Iíve had first-hand experience with suicide, losing loved ones that way and seriously considering following in their footsteps years later. When your loved one commits suicide, itís easy to blame yourself. You think of all the things you could have done to prevent it. You hyper-analyze your last conversation with them. You close your eyes and wish it didnít happen, but the world still looks the same when you open them back up.
Itís emptier. Colder. You canít breathe or think. Getting out of bed is unbearable. You keep picking apart the past, hoping hindsight will reveal the signs you missed. Iím here to tell you itís not your fault. Those words seem empty, but theyíre true. Itís not your fault. You deserve to grieve without blaming yourself. Youíre going through the worst thing that could ever happen, and you need to know itís not your fault.
Thatís not to say itís your loved oneís fault. This is a situation where everything sucks, so itís natural to feel anger or guilt. You might feel both. I understand how uncomfortable those feelings are. It will take time ó a lot of it, from my experience ó to accept what has happened. Even then, youíll never stop missing the person you lost.
Itís important to treat everyone with compassion, especially your loved one. People who commit suicide donít choose to do it because itís an easy way out. Itís not easy. I remember sitting in my room during my senior year of high school and feeling like everything was going wrong. I felt like I kept failing everyone around me. In that moment, I thought my family would be better off without me. I didnít think I mattered to anybody. I was wrong, but that doesnít mean those feelings werenít real.
Those feelings are hard to shake when youíre young and just starting to figure things out. Being a teenager is tough. Youíre expected to make very adult decisions about your future, sometimes without any idea of what you want to do, while juggling schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and your social life. The pressure is intense. It makes a small mistake feel like the end of the world.
But, I promise you, it is not the end of the world. To all the teens who are struggling, I hope you know your life is just beginning. The problems you have today are real and they matter. I would never downplay how you are feeling. I understand how difficult it is to just keep going sometimes, but you have family and friends and a future to look forward to. Donít give up on that. You matter. You matter to those who love you, and you matter to me.
For those of you who are having a hard time, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lifeline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com