My little community has suffered much in the past year. We lost a beloved high school teacher and coach. His loss was devastating. He died surrounded by friends and family, filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, we grieve for him. However, we have lost four high school students in just a short 4 months. These students took their own life. I didn’t know them or even their families. Like many suicides, we may never truly know why this seemed like the only option for them.
It sure would be nice to know right? If we knew, then we could feel that much coveted sense of relief. “Whew” we don’t have that in our house! The problem with these teen suicides is that I don’t believe that there is just one factor to consider.
I live in a beautiful community. It is filled with highly educated, driven, very creative people. Many are generous with their time and resources. Like most, we want what is best for our kids. We want them to go to great colleges, we want them to take advantage of the Hope Scholarship, we want them to perform up to their athletic potential. We want them to have every opportunity this great world has to offer. Our schools consistently score in the top in the country. Our high school has won many state championships. We have one of the best drama departments in the area.
Yes, our school is beautiful. However, there are cracks. This type of success doesn’t come without cost. Our middle schoolers begin to hear from teachers in 6th grade ” you need to do well to go to UGA or Ga Tech”. They literally begin to feel that pressure while trying to navigate the first steps of adolescence. They also begin to tryout for feeder programs, knowing that is almost a prerequisite for making the high school team. To improve their child’s success, parents pay private coaches to hone athletic skills. They pay private tutors to improve their academic performance and success during the summer.
Our kids are placed in every imaginable competitive arena. We,as parents are doing this. Our teachers are doing it. Our coaches are doing it. Then we all wonder why these kids are taking their own lives. Some kids just aren’t made for this. I won’t even start on what I think it is doing to the family unit….Add to all this how social media has infiltrated our kids’ culture. Look on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and all you see are smiling happy people. Have you ever noticed that nobody ever posts a picture of themselves having a bad hair day, or a grumpy day, or anything of than having the best day of my life with my BFF? Kids see that everybody else is happy and having a great time. They see that they weren’t invited. They feel left out and alone.
I don’t know what to do, and certainly don’t have any answers to these problems. I don’t even know what questions to ask. I just know that it is not ok to me that kids in my world are unhappy. I am grateful to God that He has connected me with some creative and generous friends and we are going to try to help. We don’t know what to do, but we won’t rest until the Lord tells us to.