Suicide. It’s a seven-letter word that means nothing to most people, though the majority know what it is - the act of intentionally killing yourself. I too never really thought about it, until recently.
Every year my high school has assemblies on topics like drugs, drinking and suicide prevention. Most of us don’t listen and don’t really care. We think that nothing so terrible can touch us. This attitude makes us feel like we have an invincible shield between us and bad things in life.
I had known the warning signs of suicidal behavior since eighth grade when I memorized them for my health final. Never did I think that I would need to know them for everyday life, but I wish I had remembered them these past few weeks. My friend often has arguments with his parents and when he tells me how frustrated he is, I listen. Just about every teen has problems with their parents so I figured it was no big deal. Wow, was I wrong.
Our English teacher requires us to keep a journal as a year-long project, though he said he would never read them. It would be our private place to vent thoughts and feelings. My friend and I are very close and let each other read entries that we thought were funny or crazy. He had me read one of his entries but never told me where to stop reading. I read the funny part but when I came to a serious part, I learned of his thoughts of taking lots of pills, and I grew more terrified by the second. Then I read that he could never bring himself to follow through with his plans and felt better.
I confronted my friend after reading the entry. He couldn’t believe I had discovered these thoughts. At first he was angry, then he got worried.
“Don’t tell anyone,” he said, and made me promise. I agreed, not thinking. In return I made him promise that he would not carry out his plan. At the time, that seemed like enough for me.
I am a perfect example of what not to do in such a situation. I should have gone to the guidance counselor or school psychologist, but I didn’t. I felt that my friend’s word was good enough and that I could trust him to make the right decision. Suicidal thoughts should never be taken lightly. You should always take them seriously and tell an adult. Even if you lose your friendship, it’s better than losing your friend.
Today was a bad day for my friend and it didn’t get any better when he got home. When I saw him tonight, he was crying and very upset. It took me an hour to get the story out of him, perhaps an hour too long. He told the story of his night and the fight with his parents that led to his action. He told me he had made a stupid decision that I would hate him for. I told him I could never hate him and to tell me what he had done.
“I took some pills,” he said, and his words hit me like a ton of bricks. My friend had taken a lot of pills, a lot of strong, prescription pills. I asked him how long ago, and he said an hour and a half. I was scared to death. The two of us cried and held each other, neither ready to deal with this mountain that had just been placed in front of us.
I made my friend call his parents, the first responsible thing I had done since this whole ordeal began. When my friend’s parents answered, he sobbed out his story. Though angry at first, they were scared too. They came and took him to the hospital where he got his stomach pumped and had to stay overnight. They took his blood work five times to make sure he was going to be okay. For hours I didn’t hear from anyone and I can honestly say those were some of the scariest hours of my life.
Now I sit here in my room reliving these events. I am still in shock. My once-invincible shield against bad things has been shattered and I’ve learned nothing is impossible. The rain is falling steadily outside as I write. The raindrops are like the tears falling from my eyes and the eyes of the angels as we pray for my friend and for everyone who has had to experience something as awful as this.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.