The knock on my office door sounded like the hundreds of knocks before. But this one was different. As I opened the door a fourth-grade student “James” I had worked with the previous day asked if we could talk. The student’s tone was serious, and his typical upbeat demeanor was missing. I told him I would be glad to talk with him and pointed to the extra chair in my small office. As he sat down, he looked around the room and shifted his gaze directly at me. His next words were forever etched in my memory.
“Doc, remember the questions you asked me on the forms yesterday? You asked if I had ever thought of hurting or killing myself, right?”
Our eyes met and tears began to flow down his cheeks. James continued, “Well, I have those thoughts all the time and don’t want to be here anymore.” From this point, his story flowed about how recent events in his life had led him to this low point in life. Most troubling was the recent loss of a close friend, just a few years older. His friend had decided to end his life. The boy’s family and friends were in shock, hurting, and searching for answers. This tragic act served as a catalyst for James to think about options he may not have otherwise considered. There were other parts of James’s life that added to his painful circumstance. His pain was real, and he wanted it to stop. As I delved further into James’ world, I was alarmed that he had considered various ways to end his life. A lengthy discussion followed, and the appropriate steps were taken to safeguard James and provide the help he needed. His parents were cooperative, concerned, and willing to take the steps necessary to support their son. In the end, a safety plan was set up to help James through this rough patch of life. It worked.
This scenario played out all too often over the 25 years I spent working as a School Psychologist in the Atlanta area. Bright, capable, and talented students were overwhelmed with life’s challenges and attempted to end their life. The reasons varied but one common theme emerged. Inevitably, students who reached this point had lost hope. This word is one of the most important words in the English language. It is a foundation for living a resilient life. A popular acronym has emerged and provides a vital message for today’s youth:
Please join Resilient Horizons as we strive to instill hope and empower America’s youth and families. Resiliency is more than just a word or a concept, it is an essential life tool that can be learned. A popular clothing company has a saying that has grown in popularity, Life is Good. How true! But life is also painful, difficult, and full of obstacles. It is essential that we equip our youth and families for the journey. Life is good. It is not easy. Along the way, Roll with the Changes!