The worst thing

My previous blog post omitted one of the worst, strangest, saddest, most unfathomable things that has happened and touched my small family this month.

Last week, a teenaged girl who shared a couple of classes with my teenaged girl, apparently decided to take her own life by sitting on the train tracks and waiting for the inevitable. It happened on a Friday night and of course the teen rumor mill went wild as soon as the story started to surface on the local news. There had been a similar rumor spread through the social media sites just a few weeks previous – claiming a boy had been killed in a hit and run accident- this turned out to be false. The story of the girl appears to be true.

My teen did not want to contribute to the online show of emotion – she told me she barely knew the girl and felt it would be false to claim grief. She felt that posting emojees would feel cheap, cheesy, fake. She got into an argument via text with her best friend, who demanded she show more sympathy on her Instagram.  I’m kind of with my kid on this one – I wouldn’t want to broadcast something I didn’t truly feel either – but when she stubbornly dug her heels in, she hurt her friend’s feelings. They are not talking.

With a whole weekend to stew in the aftermath of the fight with her best friend and for the realization that a girl her own age, that she knew, chose to end her own life, to really sink in- this morning was a not a pleasant one with my teen.

She’s acting up. Being a huge pain in the butt. And I’m somewhat cast adrift with no point of reference on which to base my response. I chose the ‘no you will go to school’ strict parent routine, because I felt that sitting around at home wouldn’t help with either issue – and I hoped that the back with friends environment of school would help, the therapy of being with others in the same emotionally unstable boat. I think to some extent I was right, she’s no longer a blubbering immobile mess of teenageness. Now she’s mad at me, because I just don’t even understand. *sigh*

Nothing like this ever happened to me when I was growing up. I lived in a very small town, our issues were domestic abuse, alcoholism and drug use, bullying, the occasional teen pregnancy, and fist fights after school. Some kids had run ins with the law. Some of them went away and never came back. No one died. No one committed suicide.

It’s just so incredibly tragic that someone so very young, with so much more of life waiting for them, would feel so hopeless.

I really don’t know what to say to my kid. I don’t know what to say to anyone who might be thinking that this is their only option. I could fill the rest of my blog with inspirational quotes and pleas. Would that help anyone? I think I’ll just say, there’s always another option, there are people out there in the world who want to help you find the other option.



A review: Thirteen Reasons Why

While I was reading Thirteen Reasons I thought it was okay, well written, something different but nothing special. Once I had finished though, I started to think about the story more and somehow in hindsight I liked it a bit more.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher is a heartbreaking tale of teen suicide.

It’s one of those stories you read where you know what’s coming, you know that you can’t change what lies ahead, but you find yourself talking to the book, telling that one character what to do, what not to do, how to avert the disaster which so obviously awaits them – except it’s worse than that because from the very first sentence, the first word, it’s too late. Hannah Baker is dead.

Hannah has left behind a shoebox full of cassette tapes*  The box of tapes is making the rounds to a select list of people, people that Hannah feels are to blame, in part, for her death. Clay has just received the box. He has no idea why anyone would send him old audiotapes, but he heads into his garage and dusts off his dad’s stereo. He loads the first tape, hits play, and is shocked to hear Hannah’s voice. The voice of a dead girl. The girl liked.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ follows Clay as he struggles through each of the tapes.

Seven tapes, thirteen stories. He doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to hear his own name, but he can’t stop. He needs to know, he needs to understand.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ is Jay Asher’s debut novel. It’s very well written. The characters are real. The tragedy and loss, palpable. It’s also a story of how each of us touches, connects with, has an influence upon the lives of others around us and how we need to be more aware, more sensitive to that.

There is some content which I feel is not suitable for younger teens, namely sexual assault, so I won’t be passing this one to my daughter anytime soon, but I will make it available to her when she’s a little older.

*History lesson: Cassette tapes are from the stone age, ask your parents if they have any fossilized remains they could show you. Before Ipods and MP3s music came on CDs and before CDs music came on cassette tapes.