How to Save a Life

What do you do when someone you love is threatening or attempting suicide?

In this case it’s my younger cousin. The situation is complicated. My aunt is adopted but had some contact later in life with her biological siblings. Her biological sister has 3 children that we know of. My aunt adopted the first two, the third one had major developmental issues and my aunt just couldn’t keep her. 

So, my cousin, she was born premature, has always had some development issues stemming from severe FASD, and is now on meds. I’m not sure what the meds are for but they’re the type that make you feel good and stable, like you don’t need meds, like you aren’t sick anymore. Once she’s off her meds she has major freak-outs. She doesn’t like taking her meds because they’re making her gain weight. She throws them down the sink or threatens to take all of them. 

She tried that once and ended up in the hospital. This was after cutting for months with the blades from pencil sharpeners. 

Then, because of an argument with her mom, she held two knives to her stomach and threatened to kill herself. She’s now with protective services.

Yes, they have her on a list of psychiatric help. Yes, we are all trying to be positive and supportive. You know what makes it really hard? All these damn depressive memes on the internet. “No one hates me more than I hate myself”. “My friends mean the world to me but I feel like they wouldn’t even notice I was gone”. “I’m only pretending to be all right”. And on and on and on.

I fully support freedom of speech and self-expression. I think it’s great that people are working out their issues. But this stuff is feeding the depressive, self-indulgent, attention-craving attitude of teenagers. They’re all posting this crap so people will pat them on the head and say, “we love you, don’t die”. I fully support suicide intervention, and positive reinforcement, but when this crap is fueling her suicidal thoughts it’s hard to stay unbiased and accepting.

And before you suggest taking her off the internet, take a quick guess what the above mentioned fight was about. Her only friends are on Facebook and Instagram. The only people who care about her and understand her are on the internet. Anyone who takes that away is cruel and mean and heartless. Yeah, it gets that bad.

So, what do you do when someone you love is threatening or attempting suicide?

How do you convince them that you would love them? How do you find all the subversive jerks in their life and make them stop being jerks? How do you build their self-esteem? How do you make their skin thicker? How do you make them see themselves as important people instead of as victims? How do you put value in their lives? How do you make them believe they are valued?

I don’t know.

I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a counselor. I’m not a social worker. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even get to see her that often.

I am her godmother. And her cousin. And my heart is breaking because there is nothing I can do. 

So I’m doing something.

I am doing the only thing I’m good at. I’m writing a book. I’m writing a book about a teenage girl who is mildly overweight but not fat, who has a kick-ass punk haircut and a beautiful smile, and is named after my cousin. I am giving that girl friends who use her, and friends who care about her. I am giving her a loving and supportive family. I am going to show her hitting rock bottom because my cousin hit rock bottom, you can’t deny that or turn back the clock. And then I am going to have this girl claw her way out of that hole. She is going to hate it. She is going to kick and scream and try to stay depressed and alone and her friends and family are going to love her until she sees the love around her. This girl will be surrounded by love. Because it is the only way I can think of to show my cousin that she is surrounded by love.

I’m going to give my cousin a copy as a gift.

And then I’m going to sell this book as an e-book (perhaps the only book I’ll ever self-publish) and I’m going to give the proceeds from the first week of sales to Kids Help Phone, the kids and teens crisis hotline center. Because I support suicide intervention. I support organizations that support teens and children. And because I believe they, and other professionals, have the power to change lives for the better. 

And because I want to show my cousin that her story isn’t over. I want to show her that the bottom isn’t the same as the end. I want to show her that people care enough about the issue of teen suicide to read a story that is based on her, to help her and teens like her.

And because it’s the only thing I can do to show her that I love her and that I would miss her. She is beautiful. I wish I could post a picture of her for you to see her beautiful smile. I might just use her photo for the cover of the book. 

Writing is about inspiration. I have found mine. 

*Note* Originally this said all the proceeds would go to Kids Help Phone but has been edited to give the donation period a deadline. I’m not being greedy, I swear. I don’t have time to monitor and constantly send little donations as sales maybe trickle in. So I’ll do one big push and give one big donation. Thank-you for understanding.

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