As usual, I turn to writing when I just need a place to vent, a place to put down in words the things I don't understand, in the hopes of turning them around. Words for me are my Rubik's cube, I guess - if I turn them over and over, around and around, perhaps I'll solve the puzzle. And at the moment, there are many puzzles on my plate. I realized today it's probably time to start working through them, so they don't suck me under, and the best place to start is the one on top. I'll work my way down through the layers of them, and hopefully emerge a bit more enlightened when I finish then I am now.
A week's vacation, the last of this school year, just ended yesterday. Would have been a nice one, nothing too pressing to do, some reading done (finished Cutting for Stone - REALLY good book, and began two more), some sewing done (gorgeous soft flannel baby quiltin blues, greens and buttery yellows nearly done, will post a picture when completely finished), and just some general hanging out with the dogs time, which I always like best. But, unfortunately, we were hit with another teen suicide from our school on Sunday evening, Easter Sunday evening, and with that 8 am call on Monday morning, the rest of the week was not, could not be, the same. It was not only an 8th grade student from our tiny little school, but it was also the son of our school nurse, and she is everyone's favorite. Matt was 13.
I think the hardest part of this one, besides the fact that he was so young, and besides the fact that it is the second one THIS SCHOOL YEAR in our tiny little school, is that there is just no explanation for it that can be seen. He was not bullied. He had many friends, good friends. He did not have a bad home life. Sure, he had the typically "difficult" life many kids do these days - parents were divorced, and both remarried, and there were many step and half siblings, but he seemed to have good relationships with all of them, and extended family, as well. Mom had grounded him for posting some things on Facebook that she had previously asked him not to. She also had taken away his phone and was removing FB from his phone Sunday evening, and was then going to give it back to him. His dad and step-mom had just left for a vacation, but did not take Matt or his brother. And a girlfriend had broken up with him. But, at 13, this was not an in-depth, lifelong relationship - which is not to minimize his feelings, and yet, it's also not a good enough excuse for killing yourself. Both Matt and his brother were adopted at birth, and I do know birth mom, at least, had some bi-polar issues. I also heard today that his brother had been able to establish a relationship with his birth parents, and Matt had not, and that was bothing him. Who knows. We look for answers, for reasons, for explanations, and there simply are none that are rational enough to wrap our brains around. There WAS no good reason for this.
I have come to believe, after three recent and close suicides by kids in the past couple of years, and in talking to a good ADULT friend of mine who was hospitalized for planning to commit suicide back in December, that the only real explanation for anyone of any age who kills themself is simply they are not in their right mind. They CAN"T make a rational decision, they CAN"T think about how it affects those left behind, they CAN"T realize how selfish it is, they usually CAN"T even ask for help. Some are lucky enough to get it - help - before they truly do pull the trigger, but some don't. I wonder if Matt didn't really MEAN to pull the trigger. I wonder if he was just playing around. I wonder if he meant to pull the trigger, but didn't have any real concept of the finality of death. I mean, after all, on Grand Theft Auto, and all the other video games kids play, you kill someone, blood spurts out, and five seconds later, they get a new life, and the game goes on. Do kids really think that is how real life is? Also, there is a noted connection between anti-depressants and a higher suicide rate - I think Matt was on medication. I don't know if it was newly prescribed or not. I do know my friend had JUST started on an anti-depressant in December, and I honestly think, for him, it HAD to be connected. But, I guess the bottom line is, when they're gone, if they don't leave a note, then there simply is nothing to go on but guesses. It's hard to really accept that, but eventually my brain gets tired of trying to FORCE a rational explanation out of the unexplicable, and gives up.
The saddest thing though was today's return to school, after the week off we've had. There was nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary to distinguish today from the day before break when Matt was still alive. No acknowledgement that there was a life, and now there is not. They did call the 8th grade class together first period to talk about it, but there was NO mention from the administration to faculty, and not a single one of my motor-mouth kids even mentioned it to me today. Odd, considering that he is only two years older than them, and when our other student committed suicide back in September, he was a Junior, and my kids had PLENTY to say then. But that was on a school night, and so the reaction was knee-jerk, next day type of thing.
So, I'm thinking this, too: kids, don't think your death is going to impact all your friends and the community nearly as much as you'd like it to, or nearly as much as you hope, or even imagine it might. Because hey,as a school (from the administration's point of view, at least, not my own...) we have high stakes State testing that takes priority beginning tomorrow, and we wouldn't want to lose our focus on that, now, would we? And hey, it was a week ago, and a lot happened to your friends over break - they went to movies, they went on vacations, and had friends over and went fishing, etc. A lot happened. You? Your death? It was a drop in the bucket of their young lives. They felt sad for a moment, a day, a few days, and then,THEIR lives went on... without you in them. Forever. NEVER to be a part of them again. Never, Matt. It's permanent. Did you get that? Did you understand that? Did you really MEAN to make that decision? It was SO impulsive, SO sudden, so not thought out, so not seen at ALL.
I feel sad, and frustrated. And I hurt, as any mother would hurt, for my friend - how does SHE live the rest of her life without her son? How does she make her half hour drive to work without him? His brother attends the school in town where they live; Matt chose to come with his mom to our school. Now, she's supposed to make that drive alone? That's unbearable to even think about. And she's the school nurse. She works in an office. She isn't busy teaching many periods a day to keep her mind off things. She is in an office, with plenty - too much - down time during the day to sit and think, to expect, when the bell rings, that Matt will be popping in to get lunch money, or steal a juice out of the frig, or just harass her, for fun, as he often did. I just can't imagine her able to come back to work there without him. Honestly, the whole reason I took a job there was to be near my kids. It's the same reason she took a job as a school nurse, instead of working in a hospital or some other place where she could have made a lot more money. What does or will her future hold now? So many holes.
All I keep thinking about, stupidly, is the refrain from the old M*A*S*H* theme song, "Suicide is Painless." Nothing could be further from the truth. There just is nothing painless about suicide for anyone.