Upon starting my freshman year of high school, I was put into a “community.” In this group, the students took their core classes in the same area and naturally built relationships with the students they saw for the majority of the day. As we learned together, we grew together and challenged each other to see the world through the eyes of our peers. At the end of the first quarter, we were brought into a classroom for an awards ceremony. Our teachers expressed that they’d been watching us attentively and wanted to highlight a skill we’d brought to the community. Being that I was one of the shyest people in our group, I sat quietly wondering what recognition I could possibly deserve. I wasn’t the most athletic or stylish, I was just kind of...there. Once my name was called, my eyes darted to my English teacher, Ms. Mahon. A mega-watt smile dashed across her face as she presented me with “The LifeSaver Award” and handed me a pack of Life Savers. She declared that though I didn’t speak much, when I did, it was always words of kindness. To this day, that sentiment has stuck with me.
Now more than ever, I am troubled by how quickly being kind has become a thing of the past. Empathy is thrown out the window, and rather than taking the time to understand and embrace each other's differences, most find peace in belittling them or their culture to make themselves feel superior. We’re sadly mistaken. So many people thrive off of showing disdain for someone’s race or gender or lifestyle, etc. that we lose our humanity. Granted, there is a strange satisfaction in being petty to those who willingly go out of their way to hurt us. But, it’s a temporary fix that will leave us more empty than before. Maybe that person needs to see you turn the other cheek to discover their faults. True peace stems from realizing your wounds in someone else and lending the tools to patch them up.
Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are real. They are not attention-seeking acts that can be turned on and off, they are life-altering conditions that claim the lives of many including our friends and families (and possibly ourselves). In all actuality, the words we say, the gestures we give, even the way we look at another person has the potential to tip them over the edge or talk them down. I hope we choose the latter. I hope we choose to be the light at the end of a relentless tunnel because anyone can find the dirt in someone. I hope we find the gold.
When people are in a crisis, where they are considering taking their own lives, it's critical that they reach out to a resource such as a suicide hotline.
If you're in a crisis now, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: