Written by Kristi Reindl. Media by Briana Phillips.
During my sophomore year of high school, I sat next to a boy in biology–a boy I wasn’t particularly fond of. I knew nothing about him except that he was boisterous and loved counting how many times the teacher sent him to the principal’s office each week. Though we shared a desk, I put as much distance between us as the table allowed while he riled the rest of the classroom. I had no interest in sharing detention.
One day after arriving at school and heading to my locker, I heard whispers that I shrugged off as a rumor. But the rumor whispered down the hallways, across the lunch tables, and into my biology classroom where my teacher confirmed the awful truth. The same boy, my biology partner, had taken his own life just the night before.
I can’t pretend to have known him like his family and friends did, but for the rest of the year, I sat next to an empty chair that reminded me of the harsh reality and frailness of life. His friends later remembered him mentioning suicide more than once, but they brushed it off as another one of his jokes. I have no knowledge of the troubles that led him to his final decision, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I would’ve made a small difference had I taken the time to be more friendly.
It is because of this unfortunate event that I feel compelled to share my concern. Suicide is frighteningly common and should not be taken lightly. Would I have made a difference with a simple “hello”? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t want to take the chance again. It’s hard to confront someone who mentions suicide. The situation is often uncomfortable because it’s difficult to know how to help. Should you take the person seriously? Will you make matters worse by getting involved? Most often in these cases, the person does not want to end their life. They want to end the pain and death seems to be the only solution. Taking action is always the best choice rather than not doing anything at all.
If you know someone who struggles with this, or may have suspicions of someone’s intentions, take the time to talk them. Be sensitive and lend an ear. Encourage them and offer your help in any way possible. Every life is precious to God and it’s important that we reach out and take care of those around us.