There has been a huge influx of teen suicides lately.. or maybe there hasn’t been and I’ve just been noticing them a lot lately. Either way, there has definitely been a lot of “It Gets Better” videos, made by Hollywood stars telling teens not to commit suicide because “it gets better”.
(I know that the It Gets Better videos are for gay teens, because most of the recent suicides are gay teens, however this message goes out to anyone, and everyone, parents, teenagers, regardless of sexual orientation alike).
Is this really the right message we should be sending teenagers?
Does anyone actually think that these messages will make any of them feel better?
Will any of these message stop troubled teens from self-injury or suicide?
For the most part, I think that the answer is no.
First of all, what does “it gets better” even really mean? What gets better? Your life? Because let’s be honest, life is always going to be hard. Life is never going to be easy (well maybe life is easy for some, probably for some of the people making these videos), but it is not easy for most. Life is meant to be filled with ups and downs, happiness and sadness. We should not be telling teens to look to the future for the solution, as if a better life is simply lurking behind some corner waiting to jump out. A mysterious future solution is no solution at all.
When I was a teenager, I was incredibly depressed. I was certainly not one of the popular ones, and I was definitely not (what is socially believed to be) attractive. I was awkward, with bad hair cuts, poorly fitting clothing, and an inability to apply make up even decently. My self-esteem was ridiculous shot, and so I always nervous and embarrassed. Suicide is something I thought about a lot. Hearing “it gets better” would not have made me feel any better. In fact, the idea of it simply getting better is what I was telling myself as a teenager. It never helped, and most of the time it made me feel worse. I kept telling myself that at certain times, such as high school graduation, moving out of my parents house etc, everything would magically fall into place and my sadness would just go away. As each landmark moment passed with nothing changing, I would make a new future moment to bring happiness. I realize now that this mentality was destroying me.
This is what I needed I hear as a teenager:
It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself. It is okay to be yourself.
You need to find what makes you happy. No matter how depressed you are, find even the smallest things to make you happy. If there are things in your life that make you really unhappy, do what you can to cut it out. Obviously a lot of people have issues that they simply can’t cut out of their lives, and then you have to remember that you can only control yourself. Make the changes necessary to make yourself happy. This is a lesson that took me way too long to learn. I wasted a lot of time being unhappy because I was too scared to take the risks, and put myself into vulnerable situations. Which leads me to my next point. Reach out. Find other people who feel this way, find people who share interests with you, that you can talk to and laugh with. Do not isolate yourself, it will only make you feel worse and it will only make it harder and harder later on. I burned a lot of bridges in high school simply by allowing myself to be isolated, destroyed a lot of friendships because of my own insecurities and depression.
There will always be people out there that are bullies, or that will go out of their way to make you feel bad. Don’t let them have the satisfaction of you then feeling bad. No matter what it is, whether it is your sexual orientation, your clothing, your musical tastes, anything, you should be proud of who you are.
You may think that no one cares about you.
Or maybe that no one understand you.
But I assure you that someone does.
You just might not have met them yet.
I have made a lot of mistakes. I have lost people. I have lost people to drugs, and suicide. I have hurt myself. I have scars. Please do not make the same mistakes I did.
If you are reading this, and feel that there is no other way to escape, please stop and think about it. Reach out, someone is willing to listen. If you do not have anyone, my e-mail is always open:
This post is dedicated to my teenager self, to everyone that has ever considered suicide, to everyone that has lost someone to suicide.
Forever in my memory.