Be willing to listen

Ben Leman, Columnist

In today’s world, we often hear stories of suicide and teenage depression on the news, TV shows, books, etc. For some of us, we never really expect it to affect us personally until it actually happens.

It is like a freight train. I had a friend in high school who ended up hurting himself in private. Once I found out, I was scared for him. I didn’t know what to do. After weeks of contemplating, I finally told his mother. It was hard to see her reaction to what her son was doing.

Of course, my friend did not want to talk to me, let alone even see me. That was hard as well, but I still stand by what I did. Today, he and I are at different schools but we are still friends, stronger even. Sometimes I think about what would have happened if I didn’t tell anyone.

Recently, I came face to face with a similar situation. This time, I witnessed it first-hand. When it happened, I shut down. I could not process what was happening until after the fact. Part of me feels as if I could have done something different like beforehand or caught the signs sooner.

My point is to not upset you, and I am sorry if it has. But these things happen to real people including friends, family and even neighbors. You may never know what is going on in someone’s head until it is too late. That’s why communication is a big part in my life.

That is why I like to listen to people talk about their day, how they are feeling, what is going on in their lives. If you do think something is wrong with a friend or even some student in class, talk to them. It seems like the simplest thing, but it can go a long way. I am not saying the only thing you can do is talk to them, but it is a good first step.

One more thing, if you are personally feeling lost and need someone to talk to, you are not alone. Someone is always willing to listen, to relate to, to confide in. If you, the reader, needs someone please call 1-800-273-8255. What I tell my friends when they say, “I am just okay,” I say “and that is okay.”

Ben Leman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]