Six years ago I was told about a young man many might look at, and on the surface think, “What a loser.” He wore spiked hair, dressed Goth, and he had ‘love’ and ‘hate’ tattooed on his knuckles. Only in the 11th grade, he looked like someone to avoid. If you noticed, I referred to the young man in the past tense. That’s right. He committed suicide. Why? It seems this “bad kid” had just made his first ‘B’ ever on his report card, and he was afraid to go home and tell his dad.
Could this young mans life have been spared? Yes, I believe it could have.
Rachel’s Challenge is the largest organization in the world which focuses on kindness and compassion. Named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first child killed at Columbine High School, her story, the “story that changes everything” has been experienced by over 29 million people worldwide. About two months before her death, Rachel wrote an essay titled: “My Ethics. My Codes of Life.” In the essay she wrote, “Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer. I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. You never know how far a little kindness can go.” Rachel’s story of reaching out to others transforms the lives of everyone who hears it.
Every year, Rachel’s Challenge receives hundreds of messages from students who planned to take their own lives until they heard her story. Many of the kids were going to commit suicide the very day the Rachel’s Challenge presenter came to their school. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I love the way Albert Einstein spoke of coincidence, saying, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Many precious lives have been saved because of Rachel.
So, back to our 11th grader. Could Rachel’s story have saved his life? I cannot prove it, but I am convinced he would have thought differently about taking his life. He would have seen himself as valuable, a person with a future and a purpose; a person much bigger than a solitary ‘B’ on a report card.
There is no shame in reaching out for help. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among adults. In 2016, suicide became the #2 reason young people died. If you or someone you know is feeling like they are done, have lost all hope, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, but every life is precious no matter the month. There is always hope…