Now a day’s, the thing I look most forward to is when it hits Midnight and I can check Facebook and Snapchat to relive my memories with Aria. My heart fell to the floor when I opened up my memories from yesterday and found this…….
After Sandy Hook on December 14th, 2012, sending your child to school was terrifying. Aria was in 2nd grade when it happened. It was then that I realized that gun rights were more important than children’s lives. With little to no federal regulation on gun laws, it was up to the parents to teach our children what to do in case of a shooting. Knowing that each day we dropped them off in an environment where they should feel safe and protected, it wasn’t guaranteed. With that in mind, I always said a prayer with and over her each year to protect her, the school, her friends, and staff. That was my mindset when I wrote this post. Never could I have predicted we’d actually never make it to the end of 8th grade.
This week, I found myself fixated on my experience and recollection of elementary, middle and high school. I grew up in St. Paul, MN. I jumped around a lot and went to 5 different schools before graduating from Hopkins High School.
IHM St. Luke’s- K-5th grade.
Linwood A+- 6th grade.
Ramsey Jr. High- 7th and 8th grade.
Hopkins North Jr. High- 9th grade.
Hopkins High School- 10th, 11th and 12th grade.
I was in 8th grade from 1997-1998. I remember very little. I remember getting in trouble for the first time for going to a party where people were drinking. I remember a guy randomly coming up to me before science class, he grabbed my butt and groped me, while pushing his pelvis in my leg. I pushed him off and yelled “get the fuck off of me.” I got suspended for using “foul language.” He didn’t get in trouble at all.
While I was in 8th grade, Biggie Smalls died. I watched Princess Diana’s funeral. Titanic was released that year. I saw it 3x in the theater. I wrote a paper on the Titanic and basically stole the dialogue from the movie. It was my first “A” paper in social studies………go figure, thanks Leo and Kate. Ellen DeGeneres publicly came out, Spice Girls and Hanson were on top of the pop charts. ” I did not have sexual relations with that woman” became the quote heard around the world.
Yet, there was not one thing socially, physically( except for getting my period), or emotionally that defined who I am today. I was so young, so innocent and had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be. I just existed! If it wasn’t for Facebook, I would have no idea what my former classmates were up to these days. I think I have only one person from 8th grades number in my phone. The people I went to school with in 8th grade have no relevance to my life now. To think that Aria cut her life so short before she had a chance to truly live, makes me sick. 8th grade, 8th grade, Aria left us in 8th fucking grade. I can’t even remember any of my 8th grade teachers names.
Suicide was never a thought while I was growing up. It wasn’t even on my radar. Yet again, neither were school shootings at that time.
Aria never got to experience her first real relationship. Never got to drive a car. We never went to Japan (like I promised). I’m not trying to be crude but, she never even had sex. She will miss an entire lifetime of experiences. If I lost my life in 8th grade, I would have missed so many amazing experiences. Experiences that hold true value. How can a child this age truly comprehend what they are doing? Its impossible!
What has happened in the last 20 years that makes children of this age range turn to suicide?
I am sorry to say but I’m starting to get more and more frustrated when people say its “undiagnosed mental health.” I no longer believe that. Not for kids in Aria’s age group. I get calls constantly from parents throughout the state, friends, and family who are terrified about the well being of their children. Begging for ” warning signs” for suicide ideation. Being a mental health professional, I am trained to access for suicide risk. Maybe my professional training hindered my “motherly instinct.” But, from a professional standpoint, Aria did not present. What she did present with was impulsivity and emotional outburst here and there. No different from myself and any other 13 year old girl.
I got a call a couple weeks ago from a guy I didn’t know. He got my number from a mutual friend. He called to ask for guidance for how to approach his best friend who just lost his 15 year old daughter to suicide. The phone call was out of the blue and he had little information on the details. However, he was told that the young girl went to a party the night before. She was smart, well liked, popular and had lots of friends. Apparently, the friends of the girl told police or the family that the girl was afraid of getting in trouble by her parents because of something that happened at the party. The next day the mom came home from work and found her daughter, dead. This young lady wasn’t struggling with mental health issues, she was struggling with fear in the moment. I wish she could see past that moment. I wish Buggy could see past that moment. There was so much life to live and experience.
This is a societal problem, just like gun violence. Something has shifted, because of impulsivity, accessibility, and glorification.
Dear Lord, I pray that you watch over all of Aria’s friends and family. May they stay safe and have a prosperous school year. Also Lord, be with them at their time of need, joy, despair, and emotional moments. May they realize that tomorrow WILL get better if they just focus on being what you intended them to be, children.