Dear Future President,
Feeling alone is one of the worst feelings in the world, and the only thing worse than that feeling is when you feel there is nothing left to live for. Suicide is becoming more and more rampant in the United States today. Kids have started to feel more and more alone with no reason left to live. In the U.S. today suicide is the second leading cause of death from ages 10-24. Teenagers are the most affected when it comes to suicide. This may seem like a shocking statistic, but when you look at the reality of what teenagers (particularly those in high school) go through, it becomes more understandable. Teens are most at risk when it comes to suicide because they are at a vulnerable stage in life with lots of peer pressure pouring into their lives. Although suicide cannot be completely eliminated, we can decrease the amount of lives being taken by raising more awareness and showing kids they have a voice.
Teen years can be a very trying time of a person’s life. This is typically the time of someone’s life when they have a sense of urgency to want to find themselves, figure out who they are. Discovering what you believe in and who you are is something that is normal and good, but for some it rapidly turns into the opposite. In the article, “Teens Are Particularly at Risk for Suicide” author Michael Jellinek states, “While adolescence is exciting, there is inherently a sense of loss entwined in adolescence.” I know how it feels to want to be someone, to want to know who I am and what makes me, me. It definitely comes with a sense of loss and confusion. For some this becomes too overwhelming. They are not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.They feel there is no where they can turn, causing them to feel the only sensible outcome is taking their own life.
Suicide is a very sensitive subject for me to talk about because I have had a personal experience with someone who has felt that low about themselves. My very best friend hit a point in her life about a year ago where she did not see the good in herself and wanted to end her own life. She truly believed that without her here on this earth, everyone would be happier. She shared experiences with me when kids our age told her that she was not good enough, how they would intentionally leave her out. I remember in particular a story she explained when she was trying to stick up for something good she believed in and in return peers around her tore her down and made her feel like nothing. This was heartbreaking to me. Over time she has started to feel better about herself with her parents and friends help, but it is incredibly sad that she and kids all over America feel so horrible wanting to end their lives.
The most crazy thing to me is that kids feel like ending their lives because of what other kids do. This is something that could be fixed if at a young age kids were taught how important what they say and do is, because not only do teens feel alone, but that is coupled with the peer pressure that is weighing down on them. High school is a hard time to stand for who you are and what you believe in because of all the things kids say to criticize. Peer pressure definitely does not affect every student the same way. To those who cannot figure out how to tune it out, it becomes too much to handle. Hearing their peers say such demeaning things to them really takes a hit at their self esteem. They tend to lose sight of what really matters. The only way they feel they will be able to lose that pain is to end their life. They do not see how much better life will get after these years, or how many people care deeply for them. All they see is the here and now causing them wanting to end it.
Every person that is sensible and has a heart would agree that suicide is a horrible and tragic thing that is in no way the right way to go. No one would want to see someone end their life because they feel that is the only way left. I also know that there is not exactly a one size fits all solution to suicide. You cannot make kids be nicer to other kids or force people to all be kind. The one thing that we as a country can do a better job of, though, is to help prevent suicide more. We can show kids that they have a voice and that what they do really does matter. Creating more awareness for suicide and showing parents how they can better help their kids in this situation would be a start. The point is that kids right now are not shown enough that what they do and say matters. If they started to see how much they affect others whether for better or worse, then there is not a doubt in my mind that they would be more careful about what they say and do.
Teen years are the time kids find themselves. Having more assemblies about the empowerment each and every individual has and how much of an impact they could have for the good would really help young adults have motivation to do what is right. This is where we would start to see the amazing changes in how kids treat each other. They would start to see that what they want to be is somebody who helps another person. They would want to be the friend to that one person in need. This would not only help lower suicide rates, but give kids a better sense of purpose. It would motivate everyone to be better, which in fact is what we need.
Something else that would really help would be for people in our national government to be kinder to each other. I know for a fact that kids look at local and nationwide leaders as examples. When we walk past the T.V.’s in our houses and see Fox 13 on, for example, we notice when people who are supposed to be our leaders are treating others like they do not matter. If we could get government people or officials to start treating each other with respect and like they matter, even if they do not agree with another’s opinion, we would start to notice a big change in how teenagers treat each other. As a society we tend to copy the leaders, if those leaders started treating each other kindly, we would start to see a decline in teen suicide rates.
Already suicide is not something that is taken lightly, but it should definitely have more awareness. No one, no matter who they are, what they look like, say or do should ever feel like their life is not important. Every single person has possibilities, hopes, and dreams. Gaining a voice and discovering who you are is one of the most important things for someone to do. Learning how to become a good friend is something that really can and will change lives. After everything I have been through with my friend who struggled with suicide I learned many things. I learned how to care, be selfless, and show compassion. Out of all those things, however, the most important thing I learned is that every small act of kindness matters, and it can save lives. My hope is that others can learn this same thing through awareness programs, realizing they have a voice, so that lives all throughout America can be saved as well.