MAY 5, 1997

 woodinville.com : your home town on the world wide web

Opinion

Youth suicide concern

youth suicide I read your editorial on the youth suicide in the April 21 issue and was profoundly moved. I wish there was something I could have done.
   The sad thing is these unthinking classmates grow up to be adults, leaders, fair-weather friends, associates, real estate salespeople, builders, and yes, even consultants.
   Did you know research shows it takes 17 1/2 years to forget a bad experience? Some things you never forget. I experienced similar treatment in my life. I'm sure many of us have. It wasn't something easy to "just ignore" as others would discount my feelings, especially at that age. I made the decision to get even by being successful in spite of their pettiness. In business, I'll even help their competitors. And for free.
   There were times, though, when the humiliation was so great it was tough to bear. And it seemed no one could really help who hadn't experienced the same thing. The more painful it was, the more the perpetrators seemed to enjoy it. Some things I managed to bury. There were others though, I'll never forget. And they scarred me forever.
   Certainly those who loved him will be impacted forever. And he'll never get the chance to "just get over it." I wish I could have helped this young man. I wish I could have influenced his classmates, "the in crowd," the "old boys," from making those belittling remarks, discounting his ideas, the making fun of him behind his back, making him an outcast to feed their pettiness. And where were his teachers?
   I wish I knew what to say to his family.
   For those quick to discount my remarks, I know there were other complex issues involved and we can't change the past. But we each have a chance, an opportunity really, even an obligation to impact the future.
   On a personal level there is something I can do:
   To the extent I've ever been guilty of being thoughtless to anyone, I'm profoundly sorry.
   To those who are still on a 17 1/2-year cycle because of something I've done, I sincerely apologize.
   To those I come into contact with in the future, I commit to being a better listener, to look for the positive, and find ways to be a positive influence, keeping my negative thoughts to myself.
   To those I overhear or observe inflicting pain on others, I commit to attempt to positively influence.
   To someone in pain because of the cruelty of others, I'll counsel, even help get even in positive ways.
   What can you do?

Tom Hayes, Woodinville