I will call him “Alvin” to protect his identity and keep the hounds at bay. Alvin is a sweet boy of 16 struggling with depression. He’s tall and has a stately appearance. He walks like a king, as though he owns the world. On the outside he looks the epitome of confidence. He is poised and well mannered, kind and self-assured. He speaks like President Obama. One is impressed with the articulation and profoundity of his speech. At least , I was impressed.
Knowing of Alvin as I do, I was surprised when I received a call from his mother that he was in the hospital. A few weeks earlier, gang members had tried to beat him. I thought that perhaps they had gotten to him again. His mother told me that he had taken a bunch of pills- his, hers, his sisters- and tried to commit suicide. This was so not the young man that our family has come to think of as one of our own.
So what does it say about a society that a young man full of life and promise would take every pill he could get his hands on rather than deal with the torment and harassment he dealt with at school? When I spoke with him at the hospital, regurgitating charcoal, IV in place, he said that he just wanted it all to stop. He was tired of no one listening to him or listening and not hearing him. I understood. And I have never felt more helpless in my life. There was absolutely nothing that I could do. His parents had minimized the problem.
We were fortunate with Alvin. His sister found him before the medications had been in his system too long. He was taken to the hospital and placed on suicide watch. So far, he is doing better. But this brings up disturbing issues for me. Our nation’s finest resource, our children, are so stressed and unable to cope with unpleasantries that they are trying to stop the inner pain in the only way that they think they can. Everyday another child is successful at killing himself. We are not raising our children to handle stressful situations. We are not teaching them to fight back, not only for themselves, but for the future. We have given our children a false sense of security, a false idea of what the world is really like. They are not able to accept adversity.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t address the bullies and harassers and their parents. Something is obviously going on with them that they would feel the need to try to point out what they think are inadequacies in others to avoid looking at themselves.
For now, I will do what I can, our family will do what we can to help Alvin along with his struggle. Once we have him safe then the bullies had better watch out. They have awakened the sleeping giant