Posts Tagged ‘Mental health’
With “bully”, “bullying”, and “bullycide” now a part of our everyday vernacular, it’s easy to lose track of the real fact that bullying isn’t the only driving force behind teen suicide. Depression, as well as other mental illnesses, also play a large roll in it. Depression, perhaps, just as much as bullying. In fact, some say that depression is the leading cause of suicides.
I received word late last week that 17-year-old Hannah Gabriel Myer ended her life on Wednesday, March 13th after a long battle with depression. The person with whom I spoke will remain anonymous, but she was a longtime friend of Hannah’s. The picture she painted of the struggles her friend endured was heartbreaking:
We lived in Colorado Springs Colorado. She loved to ski and was 6 in our league. She was a beautiful girl who didn’t like herself. Her family was very rich, and none of her parents ever paid attention to her. Her nanny always took care of her. She also had bulimia, but I was the only one who knew. She used to cut. She loved her dog so much, and she told me Spencer, the dog, would be the only reason she stayed. I have Spencer now.
Her parents weren’t around much before she died, so they have asked me a lot. Like, what would she want at her funeral. If she wanted a funeral. Her favorite song, etc. She had a 4.0 and was in 3 APs. She was basically the perfect child but was cracking under pressure and couldn’t tell anyone. I was the only one who knew, and I’ve told counselors etc. But, no one did anything. And, now she’s gone. She was just so beautiful and should never have died.
This beautiful girl had parents who didn’t know who their daughter was. I’m sure that, now that she’s gone, they regret having missed out on sharing in on more of her life. That they can no longer make amends and get to know their lovely daughter is equally as tragic as the suicide, itself. This beautiful girl had a friend, who was her de facto family, in the true sense of the word, who tried to save her friend but knew in the end that “…whatever I do was never going to be enough.” I don’t know which is more frustrating: the fact that, at least in Hannah’s mind, her parents were too busy with their own lives, or the fact that her friend tried getting her counseling but no one did anything. Either of the two is bad enough. Either of the two could be enough, on their own, to lead an already-fragile person over the edge. Together, they form a lethal combination that proved too much for Hannah Myers to overcome. Now she’s gone. Now, her parents are struggling to learn who their daughter was through her friend while coping with the devastation of losing a child. This is never easy for anyone.
For as beautiful as Hannah was, I find it haunting to see the level of obvious pain in her eyes. I wondered if that was just my imagination working after the fact. I was assured by her friend, however, that the pain I thought I saw was, in fact, very real and very visible to anyone who took the time to notice. Her response to my question of whether it was my imagination, or was I able to see the pain in her eyes was: “You can. I saw, but no one else did”.
It’s never easy to write about these teen suicides. In fact, it gets harder every time. Like most teen suicides, if not all, this could’ve so easily been avoided. Hannah Myer didn’t have to die! Once again, we see an instance where sheer negligence led to the untimely death of a young person. The attempt was made to get her some much-needed therapy and counseling by a trained professional. Nothing was done. Again. And, once again, we’re left wondering what is it going to take to get people - adults!! - to realize that we’ve got a major epidemic on our hands!? Why are so many young people dying by their own hands with nothing being done about it!? That is what’s most infuriating!! It’s almost as if the message that is being sent is that these young lives are expendable. That’s a tough pill to swallow; however, the redundancy of the situations surrounding far-too-many of these teen suicides makes it easy for one to walk away with that impression. Certainly, more can be done to prevent them from happening. Obviously, more needs to be done to prevent them from happening. As one parent of a recent suicide victim put it: “…Look at the kids. They’re reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.” That, from a parent who lost a teenager to suicide. We can do more. We must do much more.
Through this blog, you, Hannah, will never be forgotten. Though most of the people who will read this never knew you, they will never forget you. Or, your smile. Or, the pain in your eyes. I hope you are now at peace.
******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES!!!!!!******************************
Spencer’s suicide was the result of binge drinking. Alcohol. That cunning, and quite legal, drug that claims thousands of lives annually. At the root of the suicide, however, was something deeper. I certainly cannot tell the story any better than his own mother. It’s a very compelling story, indeed.
In the media, and in the circles of social media, we hear a lot about bullying as it pertains to young people ending their lives. And, make no mistake, bullying is an issue that demands a lot of immediate attention as it truly is playing a large role in many, many teen suicide. However, bullying is not the only reason young people commit suicide. Understanding that is a vital baby step in the right direction. Knowing some of the other issues that leads young people to feel suicide is the only answer is an essential quantum leap in that same direction.
Depression has been named in many teen suicides even since I began this blog in November. In some instances, even if there’s been bullying, depression was the actual root. The bullying simply exacerbated an already volatile situation. Understanding depression isn’t restricted to just the psychiatric field by any stretch. We can educate ourselves, as well. We can, and we must if we’re to save lives. But, the vast majority of us are not professionals in the field of mental health. Therefore, how would we know? How could we spot it? And, better still, what do we do when we do recognize it? That’s where educating ourselves comes in.
See, if we’re to truly make a difference, if we’re really serious about bringing about change, it’s going to take so much more than just ranting about how bad it is that all these beautiful young souls are killing themselves or how horrifying it is that these young people are being bullied. And, that’s not said in a derogatory manner by any means. I do as much ranting as any two people combined! That said, and beyond the ranting, it’s going to take real action if we’re to rein this back in. It can be done.
Sometimes, something as simple as a kind word, or an attentive ear can make a difference in a young person’s life. Far too many of these young people feel disconnected, a sense of worthlessness even as their families and friends surround and shower them with love and attention. Self-esteem appears to be a major factor. So, giving them positive reinforcements regularly helps bolster their low sense of worth. As non-professionals, we can still help reverse that by reminding them, constantly, of the positives in their lives.
For Spencer, perhaps it was a mixture of all the above. Certainly, the drug we call alcohol delivered the final blow. But, there were already mechanisms in place that created the environment, if only in his own mind, that made Spencer feel suicide was the answer. His loving family is left to attempt to put the pieces of this puzzle together. I hope Spencer can now find the peace that eluded him here on Earth