Empathy’s effect on everyone

You want to know something that most people don’t really truly understand? Something that people overlook and don’t really know who or what they could potentially be affecting? Something that can constantly be on someone’s mind and overcome all of their senses? Something that is slowly tearing someone down every single day? 

Suicide is present in every day life as a high school student, even if you don’t really watch out for it. Suicide is something that affects so many people in so many different ways, yet you can’t tell if someone is battling with a mental issue that is related just by simply looking at them. Everyone fights internal battles in their life and sometimes are pushed to the point of a mental breakdown and all of a sudden, they’re gone. Something you thought would never happen finally did.  

Some people simply don’t understand how someone can be affected by suicide even if it’s not their own mind that is leaving. A few years back, I lost someone great in my life due to suicide and I am constantly reminded of it simply just by walking through the halls of my own school. I hear something so little and I suddenly become overwhelmed with the memories of my mom sitting my brother and I down, explaining a story that we never thought we would hear. The memory of the way my dad came home and immediately broke down and sobbed over the loss of his best friend. I remember the funeral and the way his wife came up to my family and said, “Thank you guys for trying”. I remember seeing my brother truly cry for the first time, seeing everyone’s face filled with hurt at the thought of such an amazing person doing such an impactful thing. Memories that have brought me to so many tears flood my mind over a simple statement I overhear in someone’s typical conversation.

Society has put into people’s heads that these instances are normal or casual. Our schools are filled with negative thoughts like this and it’s tearing people down one by one. People don’t understand how spreading kindness could potentially save someone’s life. Our schools need to become more of a safe space in a sense, where students feel supported and that their struggles matter. Instead of constantly filling people’s heads with these ideas or thoughts, help them understand that it’s okay to reach out for help when they need to. Something as simple as giving someone a random compliment, or greeting people when they look alone or lost, reaching out to people even if it seems like they don’t need it, or understanding someone when it seems like something is starting to mess with them. Be kind to people when no one else is. You never know what’s going on behind their smile.

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Ashlynn Barnard

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