September 10, 2015
I’ve never told anyone except my parents this story before because I think it is rather personal. But on days like today, I realize the importance of what it could mean to somebody, somewhere.
Back in the beginning of my middle school days, a random girl got on the bus on the way home from school and sat next to me. I had not seen her before and I had certainly never spoken to her. Before the bus pulled out of the school, she began telling me how she was going to commit suicide that weekend because she was very depressed about her home life and didn’t feel like it was going to ever get better. What was even more scary was that she confessed to me that she had tried to kill herself on multiple occasions and something had always happened each time and it didn’t work. I sat there for more than thirty minutes just listening to her and being that ear. I remember I asked the girl her name and just tried to let her know that I was listening. I do not recall what I said to her exactly because the story is what has stayed with me all of these years and not what part I may have played or not played. I do recall when I got home from school I had my mom immediately call the school and tell them what happened. Back in my young mind, I still knew to ask her name so I could try to help her. Even though I had only found out her first name, after my mom told the counselor the girls name and I described her to them, they were well aware of who she was. Apparently she was already on their radar. That entire weekend I had nightmares and cried my eyes out because I felt so helpless. I didn’t know how to help that girl and I wanted to so badly. When I got back to school the next week and saw the girl get on the bus, I felt a sigh of relief. She was alive. We only talked a few times more that I can remember, but I think that in life you are put in places for a reason. I believe my purpose was to make sure this girl knew that somebody would listen to her–a stranger. She must have known that I reported it to the school.
I suppose that I hope people can take this story and realize how important it is to just listen to individuals sometimes–even if they are a complete stranger. Feeling like they have nobody must be an awful feeling… so be that person for them. It doesn’t cost you anything and you could potentially be saving a life.
Don’t place judgement. Mental illness is exactly that–an illness. You just can’t see it with your eyes, but if you listen, you can feel it.
Learn more about suicide prevention here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The 24/7 Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Back in 2012, I also interviewed the young woman who was the inspiration behind the To Write Love On Her Arms movement and asked her the following:
You are the inspiration behind a special movement called To Write Love On Her Arms. For other young people who are faced with similar situations to yours, what’s the most important thing you can tell them now that you wish you would have known back then?
Rene: I would tell them that perspective is EVERYTHING, you have the key to your freedom… and by empowering yourself with a positive perspective and truth, you can change your life. I don’t think there’s one specific thing that I could do or say that would fix or save anyone, everyone comes to their truth in it’s right time, when they’re ready.. the most important thing is finding whatever that is for you and truly owning it. More specific little things that helped me a lot was this quote for one, “Failure isn’t falling down, it’s staying down.”… or just the simple fact that they aren’t alone, that there is nothing you’ve said or done that someone else hasn’t done as well… and not just that, but they have made it out, lived beautiful, full lives…. God, there’s so much I could say. The thing we all have to figure out first is what the problem is, we realize the problem starts in us and everything else is a symptom… It’s simple, but not easy… but you have to love yourself, and the rest will come in turn.