I recently read that teen suicide was up 18% over the past decade. The authors tend to point to a drop in anti-depressant use. In my opinion, that may only be a part of it. The economy is poor; parents are working more so kids may not be getting enough social support. The educational system is getting to a point of resembling a military boot camp where children are no longer allowed to be kids; the focus is on testing and nonsensical zero tolerance policies in which honest mistakes can ruin an entire educational career. Then, of course, we have people with stripped health insurance policies (if they are even lucky enough to have them at all), so psychological care (i.e. talk therapy) is difficult to obtain. Anyhow, I digress…

I am writing to appeal to anyone out there who is feeling like ending it all or has a friend who has confided in them about suicidal thoughts. You are not alone. There are people that you can call for advice and/or help. The most popular suicide hot lines are 1-800-suicide (800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-talk (800-273-8255). SPAN offers a page with state and local resources.
It’s often said that suicide isn’t about ending one’s life…only the pain. The pain can go away. I cannot tell you when or how because each of us is on our own unique journey and this is only a rough patch in the road.

Although there are common warning signs, again, every person is unique and the depression will manifest differently with everybody.

Are you (or your friend) thinking about dying: is there talk about disappearing, the world being better off if you/your friend are no longer in it?

Have you (or your friend) suffered a recent loss; such as divorce, death, end of relationship, job loss, faith, reputation, and/or self-esteem?

Has your (or your friend’s) personality changed: do you (or he or she) feel sad, anxious, tired, apathetic, indecisive, and/or withdrawn? Are they no longer interested in former hobbies and activities?

Do you (or your friend) act differently: are you (or he or she) having trouble concentrating on schoolwork, a job, and/or chores? Do you (or he or she) sleep too much, not enough, have a lot of bad dreams? Do you (or he or she) eat too much? too little? Has there been a significant change in your (or his or her) weight?

If you answer yes to a number of these questions, tell someone now (a counselor, teacher, parent, somebody)! Above all, trust your instincts: you know yourself and you know your friends, if they are acting out of character, take your concerns to a responsible adult.

Depression is a serious business, suicide more so. If you feel so lost, so alone…. Tell somebody, now! If someone tells you that they feel like ending it all….Tell someone, now! In the latter case, do not worry if your friend will be angry with you. They will thank you someday, trust me. If there is any doubt read the following essay.

Thank You
Dedicated to T.E. – May blessings follow you and yours wherever you may be…
There is a stretch of road by my house that gets me a little misty eyed. Among the never ending roll of dark weathered fencing, there is a fresh light patch marking the spot where a neighborhood boy committed suicide by crashing his car through the fence. It doesn’t matter why he did it: two years later, his family still mourns. I know that I sure think of him every day as I drive down that road.

The truth is, I’ve nearly been down that road myself. I’ve got the scars to prove it, too. As a teen, I lost my mother, father, step-father, grandmother and a beloved aunt within the span of two years: my mother and step-father to suicide, no less. My extended family was too lost in their own grief to comfort each other. Looking back, I can identify with the contorted reality depicted in Munch’s painting

The Scream . I was lost and wanted to find an end to the pain.

Lucky for me, I had an angel in my life; a friend who cared enough to talk to the counselors at school. I got help. It changed my life and put me on the path that I’m on today. I’d like to say that everything has been peaches and cream, but, when you’re a teen orphan living on your own the predators have a way of finding you.
On a sunny spring day a few years later, I found myself attending a motivational seminar in Manhattan. I was inspired to take in the sites and soon found myself sitting at a bar, sipping my Diet Pepsi, sitting by a handsome ebony man. I don’t know why he confided in me – maybe it was because I was staring at him, maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was fate – but I learned that his wife had left him for another man. He showed me a well worn photograph of his beautify family. He told me that his wife had taken his daughters. His world sounded so bleak, so dark, and without them he found no point in going on. Yes, there were many ways he could end it and he knew what he could do.
Could this man not see his own grace, his own beauty? Could he not feel the love pouring from his daughters’ eyes in the photograph? I saw so much for this stranger to live for. I sat there feeling so sad, finally understanding how my dear friend had felt so many years ago.
We sat in that bar for hours. I listened, he talked. When he could say no more, I asked him if he loved his daughters. After he affirmed his love for them, I told him my story of things that are usually held very close to the vest.
I told him about my step-father’s suicide. He was the only dad I’d ever known and his death ripped the foundation from my life: I had no home and found myself living in a forest, married to a wolf with no hunter to set me free. My dad would have kept me out of the forest in the first place. I begged him to stay and be there for his beautiful daughters because they surely needed him.
When the bar closed, he walked me back to my room at the Waldorf Astoria, took my business card and promised to call me collect should the need arise. This man and his family found his way into my prayers for many weeks afterwards.
That November, I received a telephone call from my New York Acquaintance. He told me that he saw his daughters every weekend. He thanked me for listening to him and wished me God’s blessings. I cried when it hit me that my old friend had not only saved my life, but in doing so may have saved a second li

fe as well. In fact, every time I obtain God’s blessings, I thank my childhood friend silently.

I have four children (thank you), earned three college degrees (thank you), can see a sunset (thank you), and sing out of tune while dancing clumsily out of sheer joy (I thank you but don’t think anyone else will). I pray that your life is perfect and that you’re rewarded with love, peace and prosperity. Because of you everyday is an exercise in gratitude and my catch phrase is “thank you”. Anyone that I have helped in the past twenty years or will help in the future is a tribute to your foresight and ability to do the right thing.

Thank you, T.