I recall the t.v. sitcom M.A.S.H. and the song suicide is painless that was the show's theme song. I didn't think about it much back then, but with the recent rash of suicides and attempted suicides in my town I can assure you that suicide is not painless. There are so many kids in this community who are hurting and crying for attention. It is an educator's nightmare. We seem to be focused on the bureaucracy of our jobs and continuous improvement when kids need help; I'm struggling with the idea that administrative tasks may be interfering with my ability to be a hallway presence and make a difference in a kid's life. On Wednesday last week, I spent over an hour listening to and talking with a grade 12 student; the bureaucracy did not triumph in this situation and it felt rewarding although it was also an emotional session. However, it was what the student needed. She didn't need a crisis hotline, she didn't need a therapist; she needed a compassionate listener to make sense of her own emotions over the most recent suicide.
I'm at the point now where news of another suicide or attempt is not all that surprising. I think I expect to hear of more; the surprise is who tried or succeeded. I wish I had the ability to wave a magic wand and heal those who hurt, but I don't. I try to make a difference for those I reach and I will continue to stress to people that life is a joy. I watched the movie "Into the Wild" on Friday night and was so touched by the story. The young man's awareness of the beauty of nature was inspiring, yet his final realization that happiness is nothing if it is not shared pointed out what I believe about life. The purpose of life is to make the world a better place for those around you; it is a joyful mission when you reflect on the connections you make with others. For those in despair and wanting to end their own lives, the challenge is how to move their perspective from one of having too many problems to one of having challenges to overcome. I embrace each day I am given; today's snow was a visual reminder of the changing season and I took a minute to notice the path of snowflakes, the coldness in the wind, and the joy of a warm home with people in it that I love.