At the age of 9, my daughter was beautiful and bubbly, intelligent and funny. Always tall for her age, she possessed a body built for strength and she was using that strength to become a decent swimmer.
Nine was a year of significant growth—and a year of doubt. This would be the year that she became more sensitive about how she looked and the size of her clothes. In spite of every bit of praise I could muster about who she was and the amazing things she could do because of her height and strength, she only understood that her body was different from many of the other girls’.
And like many of us, she didn’t like being different. She longed to blend in.
At 14, a boy, so distressed by incessant bullying, took his own life. He left a note for his family and friends, reminding people how important it is to reach beyond labeling and intolerance.
At 14, a girl hanged herself; she looked for all intents and purposes to be a normal teen, active, involved, successful in school, but quietly feeling alone and hopeless.
At 13, another girl attempted suicide numerous times and then grew determined and leapt to her death; although she often seemed happy, in private she fought her own demons.
These youths, whose stories have been changed to protect families, came from different regions, but in many respects they all are “our children”—and we need to learn from their acts of desperation.