The Silver Lining

By: Amani Tarud

On September 22, 2010, at roughly 7:30 pm, I got a text message from a very close friend saying, “don’t freak. I’m in the hospital after a suicide attempt.  The doctors issued a permit. Not sure when I’ll get out.”

My first action? Sent her a text: “I’m not freaked.  I <3 you.” Second, “What’s a permit, btw?” Third, got over the shock and began crying in the middle of Eglinton.

The worst part is that many of us know more than we’d like to about suicide. Nowadays, it is simply an inevitable issue facing youth. But why? Why have suicide rates increased by an astounding 300% in the last thirty years?

Today, teenagers are faced with more stress than ever, and our communication skills are dying out. Most teenagers turn to suicide because they can’t find another way of coping.

Post-secondary schools cost more and more every year. We are all pressured by our parents, peers, and the media to go to either university or college. Teens are coming out of the closet at younger ages, which is not exactly accepted by most people. Schools are becoming more and more demanding for good marks and great extracurriculars (Grade 13, anyone?). Most of our human contact comes from glass screens of varying sizes.

The worst part of all this is that we can’t change much about our society. But what we can and should do is pay attention. Signs of suicidal behaviours are all around us, whether we like it or not. Closing our eyes won’t make this issue go away. We have to acknowledge it in order to stop it. Here are some suggestions on how to help friends who you think might have suicidal thoughts:

Don’t ignore suicide threats. If your friend tells you that they wish they were dead, or that they might just kill themselves, don’t cast it aside as teenage melodrama. Often, there is an underlying message. Often, that message is not a happy one.

Encourage them to get help, especially if you think that one of your friends may be suffering from a mental illness, or troubles at home. NT has a guidance office full of  helpful and willing counsellors who know how to help you deal with these problems, and who know resources that can help you. Use it.

Listen. Nowadays, while everyone is immersed in their own worlds, the best thing you can do is simply listen.

Be supportive. Often, suicidal people have a mental illness – be it depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or a range of other things.  Normally, it takes a long time to heal.  Someone they can count on to be there for them will make a difference.

Keep an open mind. Not everyone thinks the same way as you, behaves the same way as you, or is the same as you. This may sound obvious, but human beings are more judgmental than we think. Our differences make the world a diverse and wonderful place.

And if you are having suicidal thoughts, know that things will get better. Get help, and hang in there, because soon enough the sun will shine. Soon, the clouds will be gone.  Soon, you’ll be happy again.