My Friend Committed Suicide, I Did Not
During Junior High I had many absolutely dire problems that were constantly on my mind. My out-of-date wardrobe continuously embarrassed me. My hair would not acquiesce to any attempted hairstyle. My parents didn't understand me, my teachers were all picking on me, and nobody really liked me for me. These beliefs were all false, of course. At the time, it never occurred to me that all my concerns and volatile emotions were "normal". I never considered that while I was going through the transition from elementary school to high school, from kid to teen, that I was creating my own world-view and that I was emotionally vulnerable to every imagined slight. There was one event, though, that made me aware of the fragile structure of my self-esteem and how much I craved the acceptance of my peers. One of my friends committed suicide.
His name was Kenny. I have long since forgotten his last name. The only class we had together was P.E. I was in the advanced classes and he wasn't. I got wonderful grades and he didn't. In fact, we didn't have much in common at all. Still, we had great fun playing tag together with some of our other friends before P.E. started and sometimes we had lunch together. He thought it was great that I was a "brain" and I thought it was cool to hang out with a "tough guy". I guess we both got a little bit of social status from our relationship.
It took about one week, but the news finally reached me and my friends that Kenny had killed himself over Easter break. I was surprised. Just before Easter break, Kenny had told me that his parents were sending him to Arizona to live with his aunt and cousins in hopes of "straightening him up". He said he was looking forward to having two big brothers and a little sister. He promised to write and I wished him the best of luck. Over the next few days I found out that Kenny didn't have an aunt or cousins in Arizona. In fact, he didn't have any aunts at all. I realized that my friend had, as much as he was able, told me goodbye.
The next week came the counselors. They came to every class Kenny had been in. They stood in front of the class with sad expressions frozen on their faces and told us that if we were "feeling down" that we should talk to our parents. I idly wondered if the counselors knew that Kenny's mom often told him that if he wasn't around, costing her money, she could buy a new car. They told us with fake sincerity that we could talk to them if we felt we couldn't talk to our parents. I disgustedly retorted in my mind that no kid would ever go to a school counselor because every student knew the counselors would just tell the parents. The counselors told us that if we were having problems with our schoolwork (Kenny had been failing a couple of classes) that we should talk to our teachers and they would help us. I wanted to scream at them then. Didn't they know, didn't they even care that Kenny had gotten an A- on a test once? He...