First Person: Why do teens attempt suicide?

Anonymous and Robert Wroten

My story is hard to tell because it is not like the ones you were told. I did not grow up with abusive parents. I was never bullied severely in school. My home was never unstable. Instead, I was a high-achieving, well rounded AP student. My parents loved me and my friends supported me. Life was, if not great, okay. Growing up, I was told I’ll have a happy, easy, and healthy life, and as much as I wanted to believe that, I knew that there was always a little gray cloud hovering over me as I grew up. As I entered high school I began noticing subtle changes in my home as well as myself. In my home, my mother rarely spoke or looked at me, my dad was never home for a whole day, and my sister stopped eating dinner with us. I discovered that I became more introverted around my family and rarely came in contact with them. It was later when I discovered that home was not where the heart is, but rather where I became closed in and anxious. The heart was instead where I had least expect it to be: at school. There, with my friends, I was able to join many clubs, and extracurricular activity. Before I knew it, my week was filled with club meetings, sport practices, and volunteering events. But instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt happy for a while.

The beginning of junior was much tougher than the previous years. I was warned by many upperclassmen that this was the year when it mattered, where grades and test scores ultimately determine my future. I accepted the challenge, and the number of AP classes I enrolled in grew. However, junior year also marked the year my sister was diagnosed my anorexia. My parents, stressed over their youngest daughter’s eating disease, had completely cut me out of the picture. At the moment, I believed that it was okay. They can focus on her treatment while I can focus in school. However, the neglect I felt at home evolved into daily arguments and emotional breakdowns.

One day, during one of the cold periods my parents gave me every once in a while to silence me, I was told by my father that I was no longer allowed to do any clubs or after school activities. If I tried to, he told me, he would call the cops. My anxiety levels shot up and I suddenly felt more closed-in than ever before. A couple minutes later did my mom come in, only to threaten to file a lawsuit against one of my clubs because she hasn’t received her payment back. Seeing that my mother’s main concern was the money, and my father cutting off the only thing that kept me sane, I sank to my lowest level. Locked in the bathroom for more than three hours, I decided to end my life. I did not know what time, or how my parents discovered me, but I remembered gaining consciousness as I saw the rope around my neck as my father tried cutting it away with a knife. It was then when a complete numbness washed over me as I saw my mother’s cold eyes.

“Nobody did anything to you to make you do that, you know,” she told me. “You brought this on yourself.”

After being in the ICU, I was transferred to a mental hospital. While there, I was forced to reflect upon my actions. Looking back to that day, I saw that suicide was not my only option. Friends, distant family, or even teachers were all there for me to talk to. With the neck bruises from the rope and my newly developed fear of hanging off the ground, I discovered that death is a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Life now after the incident is almost the same. I still attend school every day, AP classes are still hard as ever, but now I am allowed to rejoin all my clubs. Returning back to the norm, I learned anyone can develop depression, not just those who are distant and quiet at school. What someone may be feeling at the moment is short lived. Hopefully, for anyone — not just those suffering from depression or feeling suicidal —things will be brighter and better in the future.

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As a teenager who has struggled with my own sexuality, I know it can be really hard especially when you feel like nobody can understand you. For me, realizing I like guys wasn’t as hard as letting the world know. Growing up with some religious background and grandparents who weren’t so “gay friendly” made me feel wrong and really messed up. It can be so demeaning when all people do is make homophobic jokes and put you down without even directly talking to you. Honestly, all of the things I heard and society’s stereotypes made me feel like I would’ve rather died than be “flimsy” or a “flaming faggot”. Just hearing over and over and over that being gay is apparently a sin and it’s not normal can make you actually believe it. I fell to be a victim to that kind of thinking ― I felt isolated and depressed. I remember the summer before high school I spent a lot of time just sleeping and randomly crying. I was hostile towards my family. I didn’t want to play the straight guy act anymore ― he wasn’t me, he never was me. But people actually get beaten and killed for who they love. When I started picking up scissors, or looking at pill bottles and bathtubs and thinking what I could do with that, I realized things weren’t okay. Thinking about the reaction my family would have when they found my dead body the next morning and what they would say at my funeral was clearly not normal. A lot of times I dismissed these thoughts. Things did get better the end of my sophomore year because of my friends. I hadn’t told them about my situation, but I’ve seen the things they’ve overcome and as individuals they make me feel very special and needed. This summer I slowly came out to a few friends but that wasn’t enough to help me. I needed to talk to a counselor, someone I could share personal information with. That’s why I called the Trevor Lifeline Project, an organization that helps lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender youth, or anyone who is in crisis. I explained to the trained counselors my coming out issue. They weighed the pros and cons of going through with it and made me feel like the normal person I am. Calling them and talking about my feelings is something I will never regret doing because they inspired me to be honest with my loved ones about who I really am, and that is the reason why I’m such a good place now and really look forward to what life has to offer.