This blog post was written by Ebony Shamberger, a marketing associate at Divine Mercy University.
I remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was on the school bus nodding off to sleep, trying to play catch up from studying the night before, when the bus made a sudden stop. The jolt of the bus woke me up as my peers started complaining about being late to school. (As if the good ol’ cafeteria food would hit the spot).
“What is going on? Why did she just stop like that?” said a high school girl.
From the front of the bus, we could hear the driver talking on the two-way radio. “I can’t drive them through this. What am I supposed to do?” she said nervously.
I couldn’t make out what was said on the other end, but all of a sudden the driver stood up and commanded everyone to close their eyes.
All I could think was – what is the big deal? Is she afraid to drive us to school all of a sudden after having been on our route for nearly half the school year? So many thoughts and questions crossed my mind.
“Do you see that? There’s a body hanging from the playground,” someone yelled from the front-end of the bus.
I eased up from my seat to look out the window. And all I could see was a light shining on what looked like the shadow of a teenage body that dangled from the monkey bars. It wasn’t even 7am and I already felt like I had knots in my stomach, which didn’t usually come until after lunchtime from the greasy fries I just had to have. The darkness of the early morning didn’t make the situation any less terrifying as we slowly rode past the neighborhood playground that was now a crime scene.
That was the first time I witnessed the fatality of a mental health illness and I didn’t even know. It wouldn’t be until I worked for Divine Mercy University that I would realize that at a young age my very own peers were dealing with issues that they didn’t think they’d be able to live with. So they’d take their own life not to bear the burden of bullying, peer pressure, addiction and so many other psychological detriments.
If only someone was able to recognize that this young person was displaying suicidal behaviors and was able to guide her to a counselor or psychologist. If only she was told that her inherit nature as a human being, seen in the likeness of God, was enough to keep her on Earth a little longer. Despite all the “if onlys,” “shouldas,” “couldas,” and “wouldas,” there’s still a chance that people, with their innate human kindness and caring heart, can save the next person from a premature death and learn how to cope with everyday challenges. It could be as simple as directing them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or gaining skills to become a mental health professional.
Regardless, of how you’d like to help save the next life on the path of destruction, just remember, every life is worth living. And, just knowing that a parent, friend or love one has to find their child hanging from monkey bars, overdosed on opioids or leaving a note behind after imitating “13 Reasons Why,” is reason enough to become a vessel of healing for those suffering in the world.