I’ve been in a writing slump. Heck, slump isn’t even the word. I’ve been avoiding it like someone avoids reading test results they don’t want to see. I’d see my laptop sitting on my table and simply walk away. Or, on a good day, I go to it, turn it on but then just start those oh-so-common internet diversions. You know the ones. Reading travel guides for anywhere but here. Looking through old photos. Scrolling through Facebook, over and over.
So there I was tonight, doing that same avoidance therapy, when I came across a posting from one of my teenage daughter’s friends – an obituary. It wasn’t for anyone I knew…didn’t know his family or his life story. But I did find out he committed suicide. And I cried. And cried. And ached and hurt and just wanted to scream because I’m just so heartbroken to see another one of these types of posts.
You see, my daughter and her friends have seen too many of their friends, classmates and neighbors die. At the tender ages of 15, 16 or 17, they’ve known friends who have committed suicide, friends who have been murdered, friends who have gotten committed, arrested, thrown out.
And I feel like so often, all I can do it sit back and watch it all unravel. I see them trying to find comfort in things that only harm. I hear their words and their anger directed at things that are not the true issue. And I feel so helpless watching their helplessness.
I wish I had an answer, a solution, a way to end the pain that is growing in our community of teens like a cancer. I’m not a therapist or a community specialist. I don’t have a magic wand to wave over Central MN (and the whole state/nation/world) and say “restore us all to good health.”
All I have is me: Broken-hearted, flawed and somewhat of a disaster, me. I have an ear that can listen, a hand they can hold and a shoulder they can lean on. I have the ability to say, “You are valued. You are important. You are LOVED.” I read somewhere recently, that “specialists” say each teen needs 5 adults to speak into their lives; adults that they can depend on and turn to for help. As a community, I think we need to do more of that. We need to get back to the “it takes a village” mentality. It’s not someone else’s problem, it’s all of ours. It belongs to all of us. We belong to it. We belong to each other.
I don’t know that I wanted to break my writing slump this way. Maybe it’s just a bit of reprieve; an opportunity for me to pour some of my pain onto paper. And if that’s all this is, I’m grateful for that alone. But even better, would be adults looking for ways to step into teen’s lives in our community. If by taking small steps into lives, we could begin a process of healing for those that are hurting and helping them see there can be a brighter future.
The National Suicide Prevention number is 1-800-273-8255, Available 24 hours everyday.
There's also a texting number: you can text MATTERS or CONNECT to 741741.