A Teenager Committed Suicide

Yesterday, a former student took his own life. The circumstances are horrific to realize that life had come to such terms. It is also ironic for many people including myself. We all have dark moments that cause us to imagine a deadly option. This young man somehow felt there was no one he could speak to that might help him through his crisis. In my life the issue of suicide has always been thought to be a cop-out and an easy option, a valueless choice for those around their lives.

I have students crying in the hallways today. I had a student contact me yesterday evening in tears – we spoke for several minutes, and I invited him to come by. This situation has impacted a lot of people including those that have the feelings themselves. Nobody really knows what a person is going through when they choose this deadly way to stop the pain. Nobody knows the tears in the final moments because we just don’t understand. I do.

I believe suicide is a mental illness beyond the circumstances of finality for a person suffering from inevitable mortality. That is the only time when such an act seems feasible. I say that again knowing in my own life there are times when the world I live in becomes exhausting and I no longer like the loneliness I feel. I am especially mortified by this situation with our student. He touched a lot of lives. I watched him laugh both in the classroom and with his friends. I watched him be successful in his love of sports in the events he participated. I watched people groom his life.

Today, I see the outcome. I sense the family and their reaction not as a close friend but as a person that appreciates the grief they feel. I understand why students are at a loss in their actions as they try to wrap their heads around his loss.

Suicide is something that everyone needs to acknowledge is a terrible way to end a person’s life. If someone reaches out be there for them, because the moment you take that for granted they may take action on something they didn’t have a chance to rethink or turn away from the act. Sadly one must though realize the end game is not their responsibility. A call, a visit, a wellness check may be all that is needed. Let them know they are not alone and they have a possible firm ledge to step back onto, let them find their own professional guidance.

Do not abandon a person when they are at their seeming lowest. Look for the signs and be there no matter the effect the notion might have on your own life.

The victim needs your real love.

Advertisements

The Scrutiny of Self Loathing

People generally believe we bring our pain upon ourselves, the decisions, choices we make. As true as that might be we want also to be responsible for shaking off the doom and gloom that keeps us down. There the difficult task arises in how we acknowledge our own fear in moving forward when caught in the web of self-deceit. We convince ourselves through various measures we are destined to live this way.

Take addiction for a moment and identify patterned behavior. The addict is easily drawn toward what feels good, the easiest route to pleasure. It is more often than not an addict’s choice to stay within the boundary of self loathing than give themselves a fighting chance of a good life. The drug, the habit, the glass of scotch, far too easy to attain and outweigh the risk of facing the contempt their lives become under the influence of a self-destructive pursuit they are unable to see until it explodes their lives and those around them.

A choice also has to be made by the messenger. I choose to write this why, because I have seen its impact on the lives of those around me? I also see on a daily basis the nature of addiction and how it determines day to day decisions in my own life. Not the observation of a friend, me.

On any given day I can be wrapped up in memory of poor decisions I made years ago that haunt me still today, most people would say, let it go you were a kid way back then. That’s true but I still made the choice.

Today I think about self-loathing and the impact it has on my life. Last night in my episodic frame of mind I thought about solutions that did simply scare the hell out of me. Too often we are in the middle of something and rather than face it we literally swallow it and move on. I choose to face it but I have no false pretense of an easy road ahead, I made a phone call last night that helped me move beyond a state of mind that was dragging me down so fast I was drowning before my ankles ever felt the water. Then in a bizarre dream overnight I was holding a device in my hand on stage that blew up and I was suddenly gasping for air in and out of consciousness. I take some dreams for granted, that one not so much.

Perhaps a metaphorical bomb in a crazy dream is what it takes to realize sometimes a jumpstart is needed to feel better and take action. For me self-loathing is no fun. I will choose a different path.

For the reader I ask two favors – one that you might take from this story some benefit for your own life and two that you raise your awareness around family, friend, colleague, neighbor and offer a hand rather than reject that reach with our well planted bootstrap society. Sometimes the boots will not go on.

This post is for everyone and is not about you!

The Beauty of Culture and Our Changing Society

Tonight, I had the opportunity to watch something rather wonderful. I wasn’t alone, we all viewed what represents the identity of who we are, how we represent, what is truly special about our school district.

Tonight, Shakopee High School, held a culture fest, one that celebrated a host of different ethnic groups that as a collective whole did speak to the beauty of our diversity. There were dances, puppetry, singers that modeled cultural mores produced by a student body that exists beyond the classroom. They smiled, they hugged one another, they reached out to a marvelous gathering of people from all walks of life.

Parents came to support their children. There were people that might not walk into a high school because there could be apprehension due to cultural differences that are sometime intimidating because of language barriers and matters of equity and diversity. There were visitors, faculty, administrators who attended and spoke to one another and celebrated students who came up to them and shook hands, gave high fives, smiled and laughed and beamed with pride and courage for what they were accomplishing together as a collective whole.

To be a teacher in this school district is a special blessing in the sense that we get the chance to interact with a student body that teaches us how to recognize and understand culture beyond what is sometime taken for granted. I am so proud of our students and the organizers of our Culture Fest.

A celebration of identity is truly important when realizing the beauty of how we can interact and engage together to showcase talent, passion, and a desire to be accepted in our constantly changing society. We can be extremely proud of our district and who we are and the golden opportunity we have to offer something special to a remarkable and invaluable student body.

“We Are All Human”

I’ve been thinking about New Zealand along with the rest of us since Friday morning.

Yesterday evening I was sitting in a coffee shop that is a frequent meeting place for a group of Somali men. I go there often enough to recognize their faces and exchange pleasantries. Last night was different. They along with a community of their family, friends, colleagues had to endure the tragedy of a mass shooting in New Zealand where 50 (current count) people of Muslim faith where gunned down in senseless violence by a white terrorist. The killer carried with him a manifesto that attributed the influence of our current POTUS and his remarks toward the Muslim faith. The dead are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, grandparents, elders, friends … the list goes on and ought to sound familiar to everyone. They are people, like you and me.

I am a high school English teacher. Earlier in the day, my students watched a Ted Talk by Suzanne Barakat titled Islamophobia which spoke to the loss of her brother, his wife and their friend in a senseless shooting in North Carolina in 2015. Same situation, different white terrorist, a hate crime against the Muslim faith. Looking at her Facebook page today, I discovered her brother and his wife and friend were killed four years ago on February 10th, 2015. Just over a month ago, and her comment on her page last night after the news of the New Zealand tragedy was very brief, “I can’t. I just can’t.” I have to wonder how frightened or angry or defeated she feels today.

As I left the coffee shop last night, I looked at the men in conversation together and felt compelled to approach them. I told them they were all in my heart, and they thanked me and nodded their heads in understanding. One man looked at me and said, ‘We are all human,” and I shook his hand and he said it again.

We are all just human beings. Is there any other explanation to give people of the Muslim faith, or people of color, or people that are different than ourselves a reason to be respected? One of the messages from Suzanne Barakat is to speak to your neighbors. Even if it feels like a small gesture , she said it will have miles of impact. It is a start, and today, the healing needs to begin.

We are all simply human beings.

Please practice love today.

 


 

Islamophobia – Suzanne Barakat

When Walking in the Wood

I noticed tonight,

a deeper darkness

filling the mysterious quiet

of the wood, a forest of our mind.

 

We choose now today to be afraid,

we could walk freely

when in the stone castles

a moat our greatest fear.

 

Oh certain there were evil

lurking inside the shallows,

yet vulnerable as we might

have been, then it was so rare.

 

Today, and every day now,

it is not simply the forest life

watching our every move,

yet it is a jungle of lost humanity.

 

Such is a definitive cry of woe

to know our lives in a technical

brainwash of social embrace,

we forget a silent walk when alone.

 

Oh to know that forest of old

a place whereby our lives so bold.

Watching The Snowy Night Sky

I’ve been waiting all day for the snow,

now I glance my window,

it arrives with a light affection

reminds me of my childhood

perhaps a memory that haunts me more than love

the delight of family,

the anticipation of a gathering,

the death of a cousin,

where in my silent fog of misunderstanding,

I watched the burial of a loved one,

while treetops echoed the reminder of snowy limbs,

the sort of day we might play,

but instead we watched a passing of life,

confusion, anger, loss, and tears were rife

on this day I watched my cousin laid into the wintry earth.

 

So tonight, I watch the sky again,

a quiet reminder of how our lives

are sweet in their ties to memory,

of love, of pain, of the loss all so bittersweet.

 

The snows are beautiful though ever so brief

Silent Moment

When just a glance

offers no chance.

 

When a quiet remember

ignites angry ember

 

While offering some solution

quickly dies our absolution

 

With every offered ideal

there seems a ready deal

 

I walked inside a mirage the other day,

I thought i had sort of found my way

yet I was schooled

nobody fooled

there was still some recompense

to help me certain not make any sense

of the world around me

the choices astound when we

 

lose our way

step away

 

for the light of some distant thoroughfare

would shadow reality if their own fare

were an ultimatum that offered choice

an opportunity to personally rejoice

while the other, the saboteur seems an outlier

quickly thought to be just that suggested crier.

 

While in truth the merits of one

would that we were never done.