Hi, my name is Megan, and I am a teen advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Earlier this year, I shared my thoughts on how parents can help prevent suicide and support their kids at the 5/25/23 Fairfax County School Board meeting, but today, during Suicide Prevention Month, I will get more personal.
When choosing a Girl Scout Silver Award topic, I wanted to do something that I could relate to, and genuinely understand. I’ve always been a strong believer in not judging people’s coping skills, especially if you have never been in their shoes. That being said, I have been through something that no one should ever have to go through, and it is my mission to bring awareness to youth around Fairfax County that they are not alone, and there is someone who does indeed get it. I am not just writing this to bring awareness to this very important topic, but also to help bring closure to myself. Suicidal thoughts is something I do not wish upon anyone, as it is very difficult to deal with, especially as a child.
When I was 11-12 years old, I was deeply suicidal due to my mother’s death earlier in 2020. My suicidal thoughts first bubbled up during a Florida vacation in August 2020. I am forever traumatized by the PTSD I have from that trip. I remember it like it was yesterday: having multiple panic attacks not knowing what was going on, and even hitting myself to try and get the bad thoughts out. I was 11 years old, so I still didn’t really know what was going on in my head and body, but I was terrified. Today, I genuinely believe if it weren’t for that nurse on the other end of the phone during our family trip to the aquarium, I wouldn’t be here today. I wish I knew her name just to thank her for her genuine act of kindness. I have yet to go back to Florida due to the remembered trauma.
My experience shows how young and innocent someone can be, yet still have these thoughts, even if they don’t know what they are. This is why we need better mental health education and support in our schools and everyday society. If I had known there was proper, readily accessible help, I wouldn’t have been as scared to tell someone–I even was petrified to ask my dad for help.
We need mental health support and education as early as late-elementary school. During my first mental health crisis, I was a rising 6th grader. No 6th grader should ever have to go through that, feeling trapped and alone. No one should ever feel like that. I’m here to stand up for this, because if I don’t, who will? We need change now.
When I was suicidal, there were a only three people who, I feel confident in saying, that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today. I will forever be grateful for Eliza, my rock, my lifesaver, and built-in best friend. Every 1 am phone call I made, she answered whether she was sleeping or not. Throughout her busy schedule, she would still find time to talk to me and listen to me wail. Nights were the hardest, so most nights we would fall asleep on the phone and she wouldn’t hang up until she knew I was asleep. She is genuinely one of the most selfless and compassionate people I know.
The other two people who I love dearly, and have slowly started to open up as to what truly happened during that time, are my Aunt Lana and Uncle Mickey. They are both my mom’s siblings, so they sort of understood what I was dealing with, as they were also going through a big loss, the loss of their baby sister, my mom.
However, with that being said, they still didn’t know the full situation. They probably assumed I was suicidal, but I never told them because I was so scared. I was scared they wouldn’t believe me, tell my dad, or send me to a mental hospital. I didn’t say anything to them until well after I started feeling better.
The upside of what I’m trying to say is that there is someone there for you and that you’re not alone. Never feel like you’re the only one who feels this way, because there is most definitely someone else who is experiencing something similar, and someone else who is willing to listen. You’re not alone. (Side note: if Aunt Lana, Uncle Mickey, or Eliza is reading this, I love you so much. Words cannot express how grateful I am. Thank you for helping me when you could’ve easily walked away. You’re the reason I’m still here, and I am so so grateful for this life. I’m so sorry if I’ve never said that I’ve just been scared and have never known how to or when.)
Today, I find that it hasn’t really gotten easier, I just got stronger. It’s like exercising: the workout never gets easier, you just get stronger and are able to work through it better. It is kind of like a quote I like:
A new mind doesn’t go back to old dimensions.
It means that when you’ve survived something, you have survived and you will continue to survive. Survival helps your brain know how to fight off those bad thoughts, since it knows what they are and what damage they are capable of doing (kind of like the covid vaccine fighting the virus!)
With everything said here, don’t forget that your loss happened. Acknowledge the pain. You survived and are still surviving. You’re undefeated. Keep fighting.
I’m Meg, a teen advocate for suicide prevention and awareness, and I’m here to say, “You’ve got this. I’m so proud of you for still being here. Your life is worth living, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. You will get there, I promise.”
I’ve been at rock bottom, and I’m still standing. I am living proof that you can dig yourself out of a dark place with the love and support of others. On the other end of loss, you can still be an amazing human being, and in most cases, an even better one.
If you are a parent of a high school student who would like to know more about the free online teletherapy services offered through FCPS, please check this link. Additional mental health resources in Fairfax County and in public schools can be found here.
Photo credit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/september-suicide-prevention-month