Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teens at risk--they need you!

As a community, we're grieving today for a 15 year old boy who took his life.  I know his name and I know my daughter knew him.  Other than that I don't know anything.  It doesn't matter.  The loss of any young life in this manner is tragic.  Frankly the loss of any young life is heart-rending, period.

Over the years I've had the opportunity to touch many young people, as a teacher, as a foster parent, and as a friend.   Through those years I've lost some young people who I knew pretty well.  Those weren't pre-meditated suicides but rather drunken crashes by thrill-seeking adolescents, middle and late teens.

Being a teenager is difficult.  It's a gray area between childhood and adulthood where the peer pressure is nearly overwhelming, the body is producing hormones with abandon, schoolwork is difficult, family life is often problematic, love interests are intense and the end result of them is often devastating. 

Learning how to cope with the myriad of things being thrown at a teen is tough and something generally ignored in school.  Sure schools have trained counselors but they are overwhelmed with lots of bureaucratic duties and often just deal with "problem childs" on a day-to-day basis.  Most families are busy and parents have little or no training or experience to help their kids cope other than their own life experience.  And sometimes, family communication can be an issue as well.

When I grew up, a parish priest from my Roman Catholic family was my confidante.  He was an easy to talk to man and I remember pouring out to him all of my trials and tribulations as a teen.  My daughter tells me that this deceased young man was a member of her Youth Group at one time--so he had access to the adults, both of the cloth and not, to talk over whatever he wished.  Did he choose to do that?  I don't know but it's unlikely.

Not all young people are brilliant in school, tremendous on the sports' field, excelling in 4-H, talented in shop or on the stage but each and every one of them is precious and has something to give to his or her fellow man.  He/she just might not have discovered it yet. 

As a friend of mine on Facebook pointed out, "it [suicide]  is ... a permanent solution to a temporary problem." The issue is that many young people don't see their problems as temporary.  Their world and life view is limited and if they have to cope alone (or choose to cope alone) leaving this world behind might be the only solution they see.   The young man who took his life last night must have thought that way and didn't have the support to urge him to see beyond whatever the issue was.

If you have a young person or a teen in your life, hug them and tell them you love them.  Don't belittle their problems and talk to them.  This is so important to them even if they are rolling their eyes while you are doing it.

According to some statistics I have read, 15% of teenagers in this country have contemplated suicide.  Many of them felt and feel alone, very alone.   They need to know that in their circle, there is someone who supports them...that there is someone who believes in them.  Just let those in your life know that YOU BELIEVE.

I pray for this young man perhaps a little bit too late.  I send his family and friends my prayers as well.


  1. This is something your area will never forget. When my kids were in elementary school, a boy in 4th grade killed himself. His father had killed himself the year before, he used the same gun. The next year, one of my daughters friends, her 2 sisters, and their father were killed in a car wreck. That has been over 30 years ago and we still remember. My heart goes out to Brianna, you, MA, and all of your community.

  2. I love this post. I have three teens at the moment and my oldest is 23. My heart goes out to these kids. Bullying seems to be becoming an epidemic and brushed over as "normal kid stuff." Thank you for expressing yourself in your blog about this very important subject.

  3. great post, larry. i am a mother of 2 young adults and one pre-teen... my goal is, and always has been, is too be a very focused mom. i am very open, about any subject.

    my kids are comfortable talking to me.. about anything.

    i wish all kids grow up with someone loving who helps to build their self-esteem and instill in them how important they are...

    i also spend my time in the classroom encouraging kids to be themselves and to cherish what they have to offer this world...

    thanks for sharing...



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