(Original publish date: Jan. 19, 2009)
Maybe I’ve passed that stage, and in reality I’m safer from myself these days simply because I’m older.
Perhaps all the horrible things I say and do during my moods really are nothing more than an extreme form of venting.
After all, I am twenty-two years old. I could have stopped aging at 18.
Early this morning I came to a not-so-startling epiphany: I’m never going to do it.
I was reading an article (I forget which magazine) about the steady increase of teenage suicides in the Bay Area, particularly among the more prosperous families here. Many high school students have chosen to plummet to their deaths off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Before their deaths, most of them cited pressure. Pressure to be perfect, to maintain a number of activities and perform them well.
The article stated that suicide is more prevalent among middle school and high school kids because most have not learned how to deal with stress. We pile on the work given us by society’s expectations (I use “we” because the article hit close to home and forced me to recall some darker moments), and we don’t have any coping mechanisms. We are impulsive, and the future is so daunting. In the moment, in that terrible moment when the end of life seems perfectly rational, we experience a sense of release, and therefore, relief.
And because we are impetuous in our youth, that is when we are more likely to take our own lives.
Now, I am young, but I don’t feel I am still as reckless or impulsive as I was just 5 or 6 years ago. This is why I say I may have passed that stage.
The article also stated that in most cases, prevention is as simple as just being there at the right moment, or building a sort of net or higher railing at the bridge. Any obstacle to the action gives one the chance to reexamine her thoughts.
I thank whoever spent the time to talk and listen to me when I was feeling at my lowest. I can now admit that those brief respites from the confines of my own mind were exactly what I needed to soothe my soul.
Here I am still, perhaps none the wiser, but most definitely more appreciative of life in general.
Thank god for the years.