One of the fantastic things about my job is the opportunity to work for and with youth. When you get a group of engaged youth into a room together amazing things can happen.
After a full day of engagement this week, we had a performer come in, one Cody Coyote. Cody is a young Indigenous man who has taken the hardships of his own childhood and youth and turned it into music, and when he performs he breaks between songs to talk about the hard things we all face.
During his performance for us, he asked a room full of young people to raise their hand if they had a friend who had committed suicide.
A lot of hands went up. Way more hands than I was prepared for.
I am not shy about admitting that I was suicidal as a teen, but I never got to the place of attempting. Cody did, and he talks openly about it. I know of one friend from high school who didn’t make it to 34 and I don’t know why. I saw her not long before she died and we talked about what was going on, and what was happening next in our lives. It was the same strange way we would run into each other every now and again. Every time I think about her, I don’t understand.
And all of these hands went up.
I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t. I know that I was in that place once. I know that it took a lot of work to get out. I know that it took a lot of work to believe that I should try to get out of it.
All of these kids raising their hands who think that maybe they could have said or done something, will wonder why all their lives. Maybe never realizing that there is no why. Not really. And if you haven’t been there, you just feel like someone left behind who could have said something or done something, no matter how many people tell you you’re wrong.
All you can do is be a friend, all a friend can do is be there, all an adult can do is listen. All we can do together is try. Build a community and try.