• Sarah Harkins, 19 yrs, Radford University


Suicide is such a strong, powerful word. Over the last two years, I have lost three friends to this horrible, powerful word. A really accurate depiction of my story with suicide is painted through the song "Why" by Rascal Flatts.

​All three of my friends that I have lost to suicide were only 17 years old. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They won’t get to experience college or get married and build a family, all because they felt like there was no place for them on this earth. Like the song says, I find myself asking, “Why?” Why Christian? Why Ryan? Why Will? Those three men were three of the sweetest, most loving and genuine people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving. I’ve found that it takes a daily effort of staying positive to overcome these losses. ​

Many believe that the act of suicide is selfish. Everyone needs to understand that this assumption is false. When you are in a suicidal mindset, you really believe that you are doing the world a favor by ending your life, when in reality you are doing just the opposite. Every life is precious and everyone serves a purpose in this world. ​

Mental illness is defined from a medical standpoint as: A mental or bodily condition, marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual. Some major types of mental illnesses are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the various types of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. The unfortunate truth for those affected by a mental illness is that there is no cure. There are various forms of treatment; however, the goal of treatment is not to permanently cure the illness, but instead teach the patient positive coping mechanisms to LIVE WITH their illness. ​

A huge problem in the world is intolerance. There is such a strong sense of nonacceptance in today’s society that it is sickening. No one should ever feel like they aren’t good enough because they’re “different”. At the end of the day, what is “normal” anyway? We are all our own person, and unique from anyone else. So who are YOU then, to judge someone else? No one, and I mean not one single person in this room or on this earth has the right to judge. We need to start learning to accept our peers for the people that they are. Before you pick on that person that sits by their self at lunch or is the last to get a partner for a class project, remember what I am telling you today. You don’t know what that person is going through. You have no idea if that person suffers from a mental illness and that one nasty look or negative remark could be the one thing that pushes them over the edge.

My life, along with countless others, is forever altered because some of my best friends are gone. So please, enough with the bullying. Enough with this outrageous assumption that you’re better than those who don’t rank as high on your own popularity standards. The mean looks, rumors and jokes need to stop because they very well could be ending young, beautiful lives like those of Christian, Ryan and Will.

Next time you witness someone being verbally, emotionally or physically attacked, please step up and take action for those who are too scared to help themselves. The flipside to your negative actions ending lives, is your positive actions saving them. Come together as a community and love each other the best that you can, because every single one of you are awesome. You ALL have worth and you are ALL here for a reason. Don’t give up. No obstacle that life throws at you is worth your life. If you find yourself stuck in a dark place and feeling like you can’t go on, reach out! Tell your best friend or a parent. Find a teacher that you can trust, or go to your guidance counselor. If none of these options appeal to you, you can always call the National Suicide Hotline, 24 hours 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255 or go online and visit www.7cups.com. There are so many resources and so many people willing to help. Please let them.

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