Tag Archives: suicide

“But She Seemed So Normal”

I hate these words. Especially when it comes to teen suicide. “She was at the top of her class.” As if that’s enough reason not to kill oneself, right there, correct? What reason could someone at the top of their class possibly have for killing themselves, they have everything going for them? “She seemed so normal.”

It makes me cringe inside, want to beat the walls in frustration. Why don’t people understand? Just because someone is at the top of their class, just because things seem fine, it doesn’t mean that they are fine.

What classifies as normal? Who judges what is and isn’t normal? People with no understanding of depression? People who have no real memory of how real and immediate the problems of a teenager seem when you’re a teenager? Much less if you’re a teenager with depression?

As a teenager, you don’t have a lot of control over your life. You can’t vote, you live at home, your parents hold the reins. It’s difficult if you’re a so-called “normal” teen (whatever that is), much less if you have depression, or identify as LBGTQ, or don’t fit in to any other of the myriad ways one is expected to in high school.

People are shocked when someone they thought was “normal” commits suicide in high school. Because the person was hiding a lot. Trying to fit in. Possibly afraid of the stigma of whatever issue they’re trying to deal with. “Why didn’t they talk to anyone?” Some people lament. Maybe they did, but no one really heard them. Not that it’s anyone’s fault, per se, but sometimes others don’t want to hear. They don’t want their images of “normality” shattered. “Not normal” is scary; it takes people away from the expected into realms of the unexplored and leads them into the uncomfortable, where things are difficult to talk about. But the difficult needs to be talked about. The uncomfortable needs to be delved into.

Teenagers today have it harder than they did when I was a teenager. Not only do they have all the issues I had to deal with, they have social media, a whole new wonderful world of torture. And those who use it for that purpose know how to do it well. And as for all of this zero-tolerance for bullying? According to the students I have talked to about it, that’s laughable. Bullying is alive and well on our K-12 campuses.

Some people think that the anti-bullying campaigns think that it’s preventing children and young adults from learning how to deal with these things on their own. I say those people didn’t have to grow up in an environment with social media, and the amount of viciousness that exists in schools today. I don’t remember the amount of hatred that seems so pervasive today, and I had my fair share of bullies. They were mean, but it wasn’t hate. If you broaden that out to statements made by adults on social media, you see a lot of hate there as well. It’s not a huge surprise it exists on school campuses.

But back to suicide. There are many, many reasons some teens feel hopeless enough to attempt it, and it’s tragic when they succeed. When the attitude is, “but they seemed so normal,” it’s no wonder that they hesitate to find people to talk to. At that age, trying to fit in is important to many kids (there are those who are brave enough to say “to hell with this” and find their own paths, and kudos to those kids), but there are some who aren’t, or can’t. They’re desperately trying to be “normal” and hide how they’re feeling, when in reality they need someone to tell them that what they’re feeling is normal, and it’s okay, and to please find someone to talk to them. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s not a weaknesses, it’s a sign of courage.

Being a teenager is hard. Really hard. It’s confusing, and sometimes things do seem like the end of the world, or that you’re stuck and there doesn’t seem like any other way. But wait. There is another way. And I know it’s not a huge consolation to hear it, but things do get better. There aren’t a lot of times I can say that with certainty, but when you’re in high school, and so much of your life is out of your control (you can’t even vote yet!), things really will get better. Find someone, anyone, you trust, and talk to them. Go on a walk. Give yourself time. Call a hotline. If there is ever a time to procrastinate, this is it. Make contact with someone. There are people who will help you, people who care about you, because you are important. Don’t ever forget that. Repeat it to yourself. You are important. You matter. You make a difference.

Normal is relative, and sometimes, being “normal” really isn’t all that important. Being safe, being loved, being accepted for who you are, and finding people who see the things in you that matter–those are the things that are important. Be who you are, not who others want you to be. You are your own “normal”, just the way you are. Your normal may be weird and funky, or depressed and odd, or whatever combination of things you can come up with, but that’s who you are, and don’t be ashamed of it. Let your flag of who you are fly, and be proud of it. There is only one you, and you are irreplaceable.

 

Welcome to the Jungle (gym)

I’ve been posting some about bullying at the elementary through high school levels. There’s another kind of bullying going on, right now, probably as I write this, that I have to admit I haven’t delved into with the depth and resourcefulness I normally would. Mostly because the topic makes me shake my head in disbelief that people could be so petty, so immature, and so completely amoral. And I’m not talking about children, I’m talking about adults, the people who are supposed to be examples to these children.

I didn’t do a lot of research because I didn’t really think it was needed. I’ve seen the writing spray painted all over the walls of both sides of this repugnant war that’s taking place.

Has anyone read The Pushcart War, a children’s book about a battle between street merchants fought with pea shooters? How about Comfort and Joy, a Bill Forsythe film about rival ice cream companies fighting over a recipe for ice cream that, in the end, end up being members of the same huge family? Those are delightful, because they poke fun at the ridiculousness of how far some people go to win.

So what, then, am I talking about? I had heard and read about this on Goodreads in some of the forums, and was shocked. When Amazon bought Goodreads, I remember there was concern that some of the pathetic, infantile behavior of reviewers on Amazon would make its way over to Goodreads. I had no idea it wasn’t restricted simply to the reviewers, but some of the authors as well. I was on Amazon yesterday, looking at a very long thread of discussion about this, about how dissenting views on books mysteriously disappeared, as did those who didn’t particularly like the book or recommend it. Someone would write a post, recommend it to a friend, and by the time the friend got there to check it out, that short of an amount of time, the post would be gone. They would repost it. That one would disappear as well. What’s going on, Amazon? And Goodreads, I thought it was just sockpuppets and reviewers going through on their mad slap a one star rating on everything in the m/m romance section or against particular authors in that section, or any other author you happened to dislike. I didn’t realize they were pre-planned strategic assaults. And authors. Authors should know better. They should know not to engageIt’s not worth it. Breathe. Count to fifty before even thinking of reaching for that keyboard. When you engage with someone who wants to get involved in nothing but an insult war, you’re sinking to that level. Walk away. Be a duck and let their words just roll off of you. Easier said than done, but be a professional, be the person other authors will respect.

Because right now, anyone who has engaged in this behavior is right back in elementary school, it’s recess, and I have all the clothespins. What the heck? Clothespins? Yeah, that took me a while, too. See, I worked in a classroom that wasn’t fully involved with the rest of the school, and the school had assistants who worked as recess monitors. Kids would come up to me all the time, because I was a grown up, and ask if they could go to the bathroom, George was picking on them, Charlie hit Elizabeth, Arthur called Sandy a bad word, and I had no idea what to do with them. I worked with children who were nonverbal, and this barrage of requests was a shock to me. I finally asked one of the other assistants what they did. “Just tell them you don’t have any clothespins,” he said, “and they’ll go find someone who does.”

So, the ineffable power of the clothespins, and, as I said, I have them, just for this moment.

See, these behaviors, reviewers going after authors,

authors going after reviewers,

reviewers giving books that are a “threat” to “their” authors one star,

reviewers giving books that go against their belief system one star, say, because of sexual orientation,

reviews disappearing because they are unflattering, flagged as abuse by who knows how many of the author’s “allies,” or the authors themselves–I have no idea on this one,

reviewers not actually reading books and giving one star reviews simply for the hell of it, or saying, this really isn’t my type of book, and giving it one star,

writing reviews that are nothing but insults to the author and have nothing to do with the book,

and anything else I may have inadvertently left out, on behalf of either the reviewer or the author.

Look at these things. “Oh, they’re not that bad, they’re just reviewers being reviewers.” That’s what they always say, isn’t it? Excuse me? Did I give you a clothespin? No, you may not leave.

Now look at these things and ask yourself this question: Are these things I would do or say if the person were standing right in front of me?

I don’t want to hear the answers. You have to answer to yourselves. To your own moral codes. Because think about that question and then think about the following issue, that is also being committed by reviewers and some authors online.

In some cases, reviewers and some authors have searched and found data on all their intended “Targets,” including where they live, children’s names, where they work, phone numbers, etcetera. A frightening amount of information, in some cases. Excuse me, NSA? There might be some candidates for jobs for you over here. Because let me tell you something, those of you who have done this? You have gone TOO far. That is stalkerish, restraining order time far. Would you want people to have all that personal information on you? People who don’t like you and who know what they might be planning? Think on that. You are nothing but a terrorist literary group, which is nothing I ever thought I would say. Over what? Ratings on a book. Or a book written by someone whose beliefs you don’t like, which I believes pushes it into the land of a hate crime. If nothing else, this knowledge is intended to be used as a threat. No? Why did you look it up, then? Sending them Harry & David’s at Thanksgiving?

This is nothing more than bullying. Pick any search engine and look up “bullying” and “suicide.” Think about the example adults need to provide. Is this it? The anonymity of the computer that you use as your shield when making these attacks, you think those kids don’t know how to use that technology far more efficiently than you do? How much better is what you’re doing than what they’re doing? Driving children and teens to suicide?

What is wrong that there is such hatred getting thrown around on these book sites? I think part of it must be that people aren’t actually reading, because otherwise they wouldn’t have the time to waste acting in such a manner. So, all it really takes for people to lose their humanity is to stick them behind a computer so no one knows who they are. Boy, then they’re tough. It’s easy to be obscene when you’re unseen.

This won’t cause a drop of difference in the whole debacle. But I’ve had my clothespins for a few minutes. Now each of you take one and report to the Principal’s office.