Last night as I was lying awake in bed, I thought about suicide--my own suicide. I had just told my best friend's boyfriend that I wanted him to go out with me, not her. I know this doesn't seem like a very good reason for killing yourself, but there was more to it. I had asked him to go out with me only because I didn't want him to invite her to the prom. I didn't do it because I like him--I did it because I couldn't stand the thought of him stealing her away from me. I felt awful for having betrayed my friend.
Then, just as soon as the idea of committing suicide came to me, I pushed it away. Suicide had crossed my mind only as an easy way to solve my problem. But I quickly realized that thinking about suicide and actually doing it are two totally different things. It's true that many teenagers feel there's no other way to escape the pressure put on them by parents and peers. After I looked at my own situation, though, I saw that my problems weren't nearly as bad as those of other teens.
In fact, I must admit that I've been pretty fortunate. I live in a small town of about 1,800 people. I can go for a walk in the middle of the night and not worry about being mugged or raped. I get lots of support from my family and community. Whether I'm exhibiting a 4-H project or playing in a volleyball game, someone is always there encouraging me. Last year my class had 29 kids. I can tell you their middle names and what months they were born in. They know just as much about me. But unlike kids in bigger cities, they don't put pressure on me to smoke a joint or chug a beer. I'm not saying that my peers don't tell me, "Come on, take a drink," but if I say no, they don't ask again. They accept me anyway.
One way I've learned to deal with pressure is to adjust my personality according to which group of friends I'm with. Sometimes I like to be the attention getter; other times I want to be the one paying attention. Around my very best friends I feel free to act wild, zany--any way I want. Around other friends, I tend to be more timid and shy. This way, if too much is happening in my life, I can just sit back and watch what everyone else is doing. I take pride in finding the right way to handle a situation. Suicide is not one of those ways, I reminded myself.
If I could tell the teenagers of America one thing about suicide, it would be that no matter how bad you feel--whether you're hooked on drugs, abused by parents or friends, or even if you think you have no one to turn to--you always have alternatives. If you let time pass, your problem will seem less serious. If you look around, you'll find people who care about you. I am one of them.