What Do You Do When A Friend Tries To Kill Themself? This is my story of what I did. Middle school is tough enough – our bodies are changing, cliques are starting and we are trying to figure out exactly who we are going to be when we grow up. It is even tougher when you have a feeling that you are even more different than ninety percent of your peers.
When you are a 12-year-old girl and you have that one zit on your forehead each month? It’s like a billboard announcing you have your period. Heaven help you if you started earlier than the girls in your grade, or if you are a late bloomer. The friends you hung out with in Elementary school are now into different sports than you, different kinds of music, different games and more. The weekly sleep-overs with them have ceased and you might not be invited to birthday parties like you used to be.
Your body is developing and your center of gravity is off thanks to the new boobs, or hips that seemed to pop out overnight. Sports can be a bit challenging as you are trying to figure out how to work “around” these new additions to your body. Occasionally, even walking is a tricky task.
It isn’t all bad, you find a “micro-niche” of kindred souls that you connect with and as an older kid? Have a little more freedom than you were used to. Things seem to be going well and then, you find out that one of your friends tried to take their own life.
What Do You Do When A Friend Tries To Kill Themself?
The people at my school tend to use “gay” and “f*ggot” as insults a lot, which hurts because a lot of my friends are LGBTQ+. One of my best friends is female-to-male transgender, and he was having a really hard time with everything. It devastated me to learn that he attempted to commit suicide. That’s when I decided that there should be a GSA at our school, so it would provide support for people like him as well as educate others about what it means to be LGBTQ+ and things like that.
GSA clubs–originally called Gay-Straight Alliance clubs when they first established in the 1980s–are student-run organizations, typically in a high school or middle school, which provide a safe place for students to meet, support each other, and talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. There are three typical functions of a GSA club: Support, Social, and Activist.
While GSA clubs have traditionally served as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth to build awareness and community as well as prevent discrimination and harassment in schools, they are now emerging as vehicles for deeper social change that extends beyond individual schools. Trans and queer youth are building their power through GSA organizing and connecting to state and national campaigns on a variety of issues that affect all students across the country.
First I conducted a survey, asking students if they thought a GSA would be a good idea for our school. When the majority said yes, I began going around the school to find a teacher who would be willing to sponsor the club as well as researching the kind of things a GSA does. I also began finding people who would be interested in joining the club. I had to fill out forms and convince the key leaders of the school that it was a good idea and why. Once there was a teacher sponsor the adults mostly took over working out the fine details, but I helped them find a good time for meetings to be held and designed posters to go around the school.
Everything went pretty well and we had our first meeting on January 9th (I baked rainbow cupcakes for everyone to celebrate!!). The club will continue year after year (When I was asking people if they would want to join I only asked 7th graders, but a lot of 6th graders showed up which I think is a really good sign), and in doing so will continue educating people and providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ people year after year. By initiating this club in the school district, it will live on long after I have gone on to other things.
I want to quote my mom here : ” In a world so full of hate and violence, the act of simply showing another person love can be a powerful thing.” Isn’t she smart? My Girl Scout Mentor talked me into turning this into my Silver Award and I will be recognized for it in April at the Annual Celebration. While I have mixed feelings about being recognized for doing the right thing – I hope that it will inspire other Scouts to think past the concept of building yet another “Little Library” for their local community and do something that can help other people, on a more personal level.
So, that is what I did to help prevent kids in my community from trying to take their own life: Creating a space that shows them a little love. Gives them support. Makes them feel safe. Gives them a person to talk to when they think they have no one to talk to.
My next step? I am working on creating a non-profit and creating an ap that connects kids across the country – kind of like a GSA network, but with a different name. (My initial research shows how this could easily become an avenue for preditors and also a possiblle “Tinder” so this is out)
So, I ask you:
What can you do today to make a difference?
What Would You Do When A Friend Tries To Kill Themself?