Guest Opinion: Living proof that we are all in this together
Originally published online Fri, Feb 20, 2015, 8:49 am
The following essay is by an anonymous junior at Palo Alto High School, written shortly after a Gunn High School senior died by suicide on Jan. 24.
Former National Football League wide receiver Terrell Owens once said: “A lot of emotional stress that people go through, some people figure out a way to handle it. They have a strong enough support system to keep going and keep moving forward. And some people, they feel like they don’t have that outlet.”
The following piece is intended to first and foremost convince you and the members of our community that your individual life is precious and that your well-being is, and will always be, the number-one priority for not just yourself but for the people around you as well. Additionally, I hope to shed light on just how incredible and transformative the support system in Palo Alto can be for those going through dark times.
I hope my story will inspire and motivate you to never feel like the supportive outlet Owens is referring to doesn’t exist. Because it does. If it didn’t, I would not be alive today.
On the morning of Monday, Jan. 5, I came within just minutes of attempting to kill myself. For the previous couple months, I had managed to convince myself that life was no longer worth experiencing. Life wasn’t shaping out well in a lot of ways. And the issues weren’t just centered around school, as many may assume.
This is a critical part of the story. A lot of people seem to point fingers at the school district and the high school system whenever a student suicide occurs. As simple as that sounds, in reality, there are an infinite number of possible factors as well.
I felt like I was taking hits left and right, from a number of different bullets that life as a whole was throwing at me. Family life at home had grown complicated beyond my control; the combination of a fluctuating GPA, rigor of academics and the cloud of SATs affected my sleep and attitude; my activity in athletics had fallen off the rails from the start of the year; and my social life progressively deteriorated, as I saw hardships with entire friend groups and individuals emerge out of nowhere.
There were no groups or cliques that I was a meaningful part of. I felt as if I was without a home. Alone.
When I was suicidal, I couldn’t help but think about everything that was hurting me at that moment. I didn’t see the outlet that is inherent in the community that my friends, family and other support systems have built around me.
Certain people who had stuck by me knew that I was dealing with a number of different problems at the time of the incident. It just so happened that a couple close friends texted me a few messages as everything was unfolding. The time was 10:50 a.m., and I was on my way home from an appointment.
What happened next is the jewel of why I am still here today and why I cannot emphasize enough how valued and amazing our community is. As one friend talked with me in a meaningful, deep conversation and begged me to realize just how unfortunate it would be for my life to be taken, another took brave action that I quite simply cannot thank her enough for. The school was notified immediately about what was going on and contacted the police, who sprung into action the second they got the call.
One of my friends kept talking to me, exemplifying the true power that we are all in this together. The heights she went to in order to show to me just how great a person I was and could become are still embedded in the back of my mind today. Eventually, police officers and school guidance counselors were by my side.
I was in for the most humbling six hours of my life, but at the end of the day, it was all worth it as it turned my life around. I was taken by local police to the Emergency Psychiatric Services (EPS) in San Jose. I don’t want to go too much in depth about the experience I went through there, but believe me when I say that EPS is not a place where you want to stay for an extended period of time. The freedom is restricted, a lot of waiting occurs and nobody is what I’d call “happy.”
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