Last Friday sent shockwaves through the student population with the announcement of an “unexpected passing” from the junior class. It opened up wounds, fresh and old for those who have witnessed the suicide of a loved one. In the past month, two Blaine students have committed suicide, and three in the past calendar year. It shook us. We started to fear another loss of a friend, and actively discuss ways to end the suicide epidemic.
Here are snapshots of a school, mourning, remembering, and coming together as one this week of Homecoming 2019.
On Wednesday morning, students organized a modest memorial. At sunrise, they gathered by the flagpole, mourning the suicides.
Thursday morning, post-it notes were anonymously posted on lockers, water fountains, mirrors, and walls. Each read words of encouragement for whoever needed them at that moment. “Never give up.” “Things will get better.” “Stay strong.”
Even if it seems that someone has their life neatly put together, they, like an iceberg, can have a mountain of suffering underneath. With a million different pressures from many angles, it’s valid to say that being a teenager is hard. Let’s be more open to one another with what we struggle with. When we’re asked, “Hey, how are you?” let’s not hide behind an “Okay.”
On Friday, our student council organized a “yellow-out,” symbolizing suicide awareness and prevention.
At Friday’s game, in the rowdy student section, I stood beside my friend, cheering “BEN-GAL NA-TION!!” The next moment, I realized her phone’s wallpaper was a portrait of her friend who had unexpectedly committed suicide.
Among the festivities of this Homecoming, we remember and come together, as a sea of yellow. We’ve realized we don’t want to lose another friend or classmate. I’ve stopped taking for granted something as simple as seeing all my friends each day at school. We don’t want to ask “Who’s next?” or “Is this the last time I see him?” Instead, we reach out our hands, and ask, “Who can I help?”
Our Bengal nation is resilient. Each day we now remind each other: You are loved. You are not alone.