Just a few weeks ago a fifteen year-old girl told me she was thinking about ending her life. She wasn’t only thinking about it. She knew how. She got the idea from youtube. And she told a group of ten other fourteen and fifteen year-old girls and me.
“It wouldn’t matter to anyone. My mom and dad would probably be relieved. My friends wouldn’t miss me. And it would open up another slot for someone to be in counseling at Daystar.”
As I looked around the room, all I could see was pain registering on every other girl’s face. Their concern—no, their fear was palpable. She, however, didn’t see it. She didn’t want to. They fell under the category of “My friends wouldn’t miss me.”
After the girl left with her very strong and kind mother, I went back to the group to talk and pray for this sad young girl. Another girl’s comment was “This is everyone’s go to these days.” And every girl with the exception of one said she had at least one friend who had considered ending her life.
Several months ago, I met with another teenage girl who had a friend who was considering suicide. She was a wreck over it and said, “What she doesn’t know is that she would take her pain and give it to me.” As a side note, this girl’s mother had recently tried to end her life, as well.
If you have had thoughts of hurting yourself…of taking your own life in any way…please tell an adult you trust. Your parent. The school counselor. Your youth director. Suicide is not a go-to. It is a PERMANENT solution to a TEMPORARY problem. And will cause permanent pain for your family. Your friends. Everyone who cares about you will daily walk with the pain of thinking “If only I had talked to her one more time…” “If only I had texted him back….” Or even “If only she had told me how much she was hurting.” And their pain will be permanent.
You are loved. It may not feel like it right now. And, actually, if you’re a teenager or close to getting there, it won’t feel like it sometimes. You’re going to feel misunderstood by your parents. Love and understanding are not the same thing. Try to talk to them. If you disagree or are fighting a lot, talk to another adult. Find someone who can help you talk to your parents about what you need. And, then, you still won’t feel understood sometimes. That’s part of what being a teenager is about. Your parents didn’t feel understood by their parents. Your kids won’t feel understood by you. You’re changing, which is a really cool thing. And you have to help your parents know who you are and what you need.
You are going to feel abandoned by your friends. I would guess you’ve abandoned a friend before simply because you were thinking about something else…or even yourself, and you missed an opportunity to be there for them. It wasn’t because you didn’t care. Or, maybe you have had friends who have genuinely left. You’ve been bullied. Betrayed. That is an awful thing. But there are other people out there who would make really good friends. Sometimes, it takes time and work to find them. It means you may have to take a risk and talk to someone you don’t know. Don’t wait for them to make the first move. Sometimes, when you’re shy, you both wait on each other and then neither of you has the chance to make a great friend.
You’re also going to feel depressed. And anxious. People talk about these words all of the time now. Every teenage girl…every teenage guy feels those things. They get sad. Worried. Feel alone. Feel like no one likes them sometimes. Even the ones who are in the “popular group.” Even the ones who look like they have something to do every weekend on instagram. Loneliness doesn’t show up on instagram. But it’s there. Every one feels it. And you’re at a time in your life where your brain is changing a lot and hormones (sorry, I had to mention it) do make your emotions go up and down a lot. Your feelings are important but they are not necessarily truth.
The truth is that you are loved. The truth is that you make a difference. The truth is that you would be missed terribly if you were gone. Take it from me, who has been counseling girls for 20 years and even known a couple of kids who have taken their lives. Neither of them felt like it mattered…like they mattered. But I know their parents. And their siblings. And I know that a day doesn’t go by when they’re not missed terribly. The hole they left in the lives of everyone who cared about them can never be filled. The same would be true for you. For your parents. Your grandparents. Your siblings. Your friends…even if there are only one or two. You are loved…by them and by a Savior who wants and will bring good things into your future. More good than you can even imagine right now. And he will redeem every hurt you are feeling in this moment and have ever felt. I see it happen every day.
If you’re hurting, reach out. Tell someone. Don’t give your pain to someone else by taking your life. Trust that the people who say they care about you CARE. And, parents, don’t you dare mistake how much your life impacts the lives of your children.
I’ll say it again. Reach out. Ask for help. Try to help someone who you might have noticed is hurting, too. If you don’t know that you make a difference, one of the best things for you is to experience actually making one. Write a note to someone. Show up at a sad friend’s house with a cup of coffee. Text someone who got left out of last night’s party. You can make a difference, even when you’re sad. As my friend Melissa says, “Nothing in your life is ever so bad that you can’t give.”
“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” 1 John 3:18-20, The Message
Your life matters. Your pain matters, too. But it does not define you. You’re more than that pain. You have strength and hope and good and kindness in you that you haven’t even touched yet. Give it a chance. Give yourself a chance to become. Give God a chance to show you how desperately loved you are by Him and by people who want and need you to stick around.
Want more help on how to talk to girls about what’s happening inside their brains and hearts? Check out our books Mirrors and Maps (for 11-14 year-olds) and Growing Up Without Getting Lost (for 15-19 year-old) at amazon.com!