Secrets on suicide never justified

  • By Jessica Yi
  • Thursday, December 4, 2008 12:23pm

There is a danger lurking among us; its name is privacy.

Recently, a girl from my school killed herself. Shockingly, many people knew about her plan but no one told an adult. Had someone reported her plan, her death could have been prevented. Statistics show that while teens and young adults are less likely to report having a mental illness, they have the highest rate of attempted and successful suicides, which stands at 4.5 per 100,000. If anyone knows about a person’s thoughts about dying, there should be absolutely no hesitation in telling a trusted authority.

There are a few reasons why a person would keep this vital information a secret: the depressed person didn’t mean it; friends don’t want to break a relationship; personal and private thoughts aren’t meant to be violated. These reasons have no justification. It is okay to break privacy when it comes to suicide.

Two summers ago, my close friend “John” started to drink, cut and experiment with drugs. His behavior surprised me because I knew him as a sociable and bubbly person.

Then, one Thursday night, John tried to kill himself.

He didn’t succeed but I still panicked when I found out. Only a handful of his friends knew. I couldn’t tell his parents — I didn’t know how to contact them — and I was worried that he would get mad at me for breaking his trust. So, I confided in two of my friends about his attempted suicide. I was hesitant about telling an adult, but thankfully they helped me come to my senses. I explained the situation to my school counselor and he sent an e-mail to John’s school counselor. John has been better since then and he was never angry with me about revealing his secret.

“Jenny,” my friend, also went through a similar situation: one of her friends had tried to kill herself. She made Jenny promise not to tell, but Jenny did anyway. “I (wouldn’t) be able to live with (myself) if I knew about (her attempt) and didn’t tell anybody.”

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t take action until it was almost too late; I should have taken action on the “little” things before.

It is a lame excuse when people say they don’t want to interfere with a person’s choice on dying because it is simply his or her decision. A person’s death doesn’t just float away; the sadness puts a hole in your heart. The sorrow from a classmate’s suicide is unnecessary to experience. If there is a chance to avoid students feeling crushed by a friend’s death, why not take it?

In order to save teens who are thinking about suicide, high schools should install a program that students volunteer to be in and learn how to recognize potential suicide victims. If a student recognizes one of his or her peers, the volunteer can go to a school counselor or a teacher and inform them about the student so he or she can receive help.

Jessica Yi is a junior at Meadowdale High School.

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