Monday, March 15, 2010

To Save a Life

There is a great movie still in theaters across the country which is unlike any other. It is filled with drama, emotion, some violence and great music. It touches the heart and the soul. It is To Save a Life. This major movie documents two boys who grew up together, supported each other as children, then drifted apart in middle school and virtually disappeared from each others lives in high school. The movie opens with a tragic event at school, a suicide. The rest of the film is devoted to the far reaching impact of the death of this one boy throughout the school,and the unforeseen impact on the families involved. It is beautifully filmed with great acting and reality of what teens deal with in their daily lives. It brings to clear focus the impact one person can have on a decision made in isolation by a child who feels hopeless and lost.
Suicides are rarely an act of impulse. They are carefully planned and thought about. They are orchestrated to have impact. The people who are doing the planning leave clues of what they are intending to do. Here is an example: Jennifer was not a violent child. She knew when she actually did it, it would have to be pills. Guns were too violent and would leave such a mess. So she got a bottle of gin, and a bunch of pills she had been saving from various places. She drank steadily for several hours and began to take the pills.She thought about the note she had left for her mother, her best friend and her teacher. She remembered the books, bracelet and ring she had given away which meant the world to her. They meant nothing now, in fact nothing meant anything anymore. She hoped the letters would explain the pain, the hurt that caused her to do this. She didn't mean to hurt anyone but it seemed many people were intent on hurting her. So many people had been so cruel and mean to her at her new school. There was little choice that she could see.
When she woke up, her friend was with her. Samantha had been unable to get her on the phone and had thought she was acting weird. She went to Jen's house. It was strange that no one was there. She called Jenny's mom who said she should be there, she had just talked to her a few minutes before. Samantha broke in to find her friend crying and clutching a bottle of gin and a handful of multicolored pills. She called an ambulance and rode with Jen to the hospital.
Jenny never tried to kill herself again. She spent hours talking with Samantha and her mom and some other kids about how it feels to be so invisible in the world of high school teens. She soon found there were a lot of kids who felt the same way. They blogged, they met for lunch and sat in a little circle in the courtyard. Soon the little circle became a much bigger one, because they knew what it was like to be on the outside. They made sure no one was ever on the outside of their group.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, 91 people commit suicide everyday. There are many sources of help available for someone who is thinking of suicide. You can find numbers on my blog page. But what do you do if you know someone has considered suicide? If you suspect someone is depressed or considering suicide give them the following number to call. 1-800-273-TALK. Stay with them while they make the call. If you suspect someone has taken anything,call 911. It is difficult to know what to say or do for people who are depressed. Here are a few suggestions:
1)I don't want you to die. I care about you and would miss you terribly
2)Send people who are struggling a card just to let them know you care. When someone is feeling suicidal they feel like they are expendable. If they were to die no one would care or perhaps even notice. A simple card can change that thought.
3)I am here. This lets the person know you are with them. They are important enough for you to be there for them .
4)Share a meal. Bringing a meal to someone who is too depressed to eat may be the opening to create a sense of value for that person.
5)Be good company! It is hard to be around people who are depressed. They don't have to be the life of the party but they have to be included. Never leave a depressed person alone, even if they ask you to.

Just as important as what to say or do is what not to say:
Never say I know how you feel. You don't. Even if you have been suicidal or depressed yourself everyone is different. Hearing about someone elses depression is rarely helpful.

Don't say, just snap out of it. This really discounts everything the person is feeling and adds to the impression that what they are experiencing is bad and too big of an inconvenience for you to take the time to listen.

Don't offer comparisons to a disaster. Like an earthquake or a shooting at a college. Their situation may not appear to be as bad as the one you are comparing it to, but it probably feels just as bad to them. Counting your blessings is hard if you can't see them for the fog of despair.

Don't ignore it. If someone says they are depressed or suicidal take it seriously. Ask them about it. Chances are they are not seeking attention but are crying out for help.

Don't keep secrets. Many people will confide in you and then ask you not to tell anyone. The realization that you may be the only chance this person has of getting help should weigh heavily on your heart. What if you don't tell and they die? How big a load is that for you to carry?

Suicide is real and it happens every day. Most people think of suicide long before they plan the actual act. If you think you are depressed or have been thinking about ways to kill yourself, please seek help. You are an original masterpiece that cannot be re-created. You are the only one.

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