Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Despair, Teen-Angst & Island Suicides

Interesting little article in today's NYTimes about a cluster of teen suicides on Nantucket.

I know a thing or two about teen angst and/or despair. Fortunately for me, when I was a teen, I was able to keep the vivid dramas I concocted for myself on a daily basis completely within my head and never seized upon the opportunity of a classmate's suicide to jump on the do-it-in-yourself bandwagon.

I believe in the theory of "cluster" suicides, especially among teens. Teens do everything in packs, including offing themselves. It's chic. It's dramatic (THEY'LL BE SORRY! -- uh, no, they won't). It makes a real statement.

It's also a permanent solution to temporary problems.

But try telling that to a 16 year old. Anything that runs past midnight tonight IS permanent in their books.

I know that when I was 16 I would never have believed things were going to get better. Mostly because for 16 years they hadn't. That's what comes from living with drunks while trying to raise yourself. What I didn't realize, though, was that in time they'd all die and I had the option to make things better for myself, once they were out of the way. So that long after they were gone I kept living every day as though they were still around and still making me miserable.

Silly me.

Naturally, I drowned those (self-inflicted) painful feelings with booze. Others choose drugs. Still others choose both.

Personally, I think that suicidal teenagers would be far better off becoming drunks. At least in the short run. Booze numbs the pain, no matter what the source, and, God willing, there'll be time enough later to sober up, after the source of the original pain is long-gone. I know that sounds irresponsible or callous. Rest assured, it's not. I'm certain that I would've been dead decades ago if booze hadn't numbed me to life until I was ready to accept life on it's terms.

Accompanying the article is a picture of a hand-written note taped to a classroom door in Nantucket High. It's a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life."

Good words to share with a despairing teen. Good words, too, for the rest of us.


On a completely different (and more frivolous) subject, here is the question du jour:

Is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a Big 'Mo? Click here to find out for yourself.

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