During Junior High I had many absolutely dire problems that were constantly on my mind. My out-of-date wardrobe continuously embarrassed me. My hair would not acquiesce to any attempted hairstyle. My parents didn't understand me, my teachers were all picking on me, and nobody really liked me for me. These beliefs were all false, of course. At the time, it never occurred to me that all my concerns and volatile emotions were "normal". I never considered that while I was going through the transition from elementary school to high school, from kid to teen, that I was creating my own world-view and that I was emotionally vulnerable to every imagined slight. There was one event, though, that made me aware of the fragile structure of my self-esteem and how much I craved the acceptance of my peers. One of my friends committed suicide.
His name was Kenny. I have long since forgotten his last name. The only class we had together was P.E. I was in the advanced classes and he wasn't. I got wonderful grades and he didn't. In fact, we didn't have much in common at all. Still, we had great fun playing tag together with some of our other friends before P.E. started and sometimes we had lunch together. He thought it was great that I was a "brain" and I thought it was cool to hang out with a "tough guy". I guess we both got a little bit of social status from our relationship.
It took about one week, but the news finally reached me and my friends that Kenny had killed himself over Easter break. I was surprised. Just before Easter break, Kenny had told me that his parents were sending him to Arizona to live with his aunt and cousins in hopes of "straightening him up". He said he was looking forward to...
... middle of paper ...
... of the issue, those with only one answer. I wanted someone with an open mind.
I found that someone in a classmate. I didn't know her well, but I had overheard her comment in the hallway one day: "I think suicide is OK if that's what they want". She and her companions had been discussing her cousin who had killed himself the year before. It seems she was the only one in her family that had taken the view that his action was an acceptable choice. I took a risk and asked her if we could talk. She agreed. We talked. We talked about Yes and we talked about No. Before we parted, she said she liked me no matter what I decided and would support my decision to my schoolmates if necessary. I'm still here because of her, because she accepted me and my thoughts on suicide with no judgments, because of her belief that suicide was OK.
I wonder if Kenny would still be here.
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