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Panther Prints

Personal Column: The person behind the scars cries for help

Romeeka Siddiqui, staff writer
Romeeka Siddiqui, staff columnist

I walked into the cafeteria after sixth block and made my way to my usual table. It was D lunch, which meant that I was starving, so I plopped down on my regular seat and began chewing on a granola bar. He was already there toying his fingers with a bottle of red Kool-Aid in his hand. I smiled at him and he gave me a half- smile back. Something was wrong. I knew it. He looked sad, hurt even, like he was in some kind of pain.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him. He mouthed the word ‘nothing’ and continued to fiddle around with that bottle. Not satisfied, I turned to my friend to ask her if she knew what was up. She was on his swimming team and I knew they were close. She just nodded her head signaling me to stay quiet. I let it go until my other friend came and sat to my right.

Did a cat scratch you?” she exclaimed staring at his arm. Everybody at the table shifted their eyes to him. There lay a horrific sight: three long, deep cuts on his arm. They were fresh. I couldn’t believe what I saw. He attempted to cover the cuts with his jacket but it was too late.  Everybody saw them. We lay silent for a moment and eventually changed the subject.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my experience though. I wondered inside what could make this young man self- harm himself.  I began to wonder if he was suicidal.  He looked so normal and happy! Nothing was making sense to me until my friend on his swim team told me the background story. He was new to the school and was living with another family other than his own. He wasn’t comfortable in that house and was missing his real home. He was extremely depressed and he cut himself.  Like other depressed teens he was cutting to make himself feel better. It was a way of releasing the pain he felt on the inside. He never openly told her all the details, but she knew that he needed help. I was heartbroken. I could not wrap my mind around how this young man could appear so normal yet be harming himself to feel better.

I didn’t know this kid very well but I knew that every time I saw him in the hallways, he was smiling. He just didn’t fit the mold of a depressed suicidal teenager. I learned that day looks can be deceiving. Even though a classmate may look fine to everyone else they may actually be dying on the inside.

Too many teenagers in my generation face similar thoughts like my friend. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the way we are being brought up that makes us so sensitive to the outside world. Or maybe it’s because nobody really expressed these types of issues until recently.

Self harm, suicide, depression, all of these concepts that were once taboo to talk about are just a norm in our society today. I hear students my age say they are depressed from stress and relationships all the time, but I always ask myself if they are really depressed. Most of them do not even know what depression is. Depression, by definition, is “sadness greater and more prolonged that that warranted by any objective reason.” A great majority of teenagers who claim to be depressed, are not depressed.  And the ones who are, don’t speak up and ask for help.

Depression doesn’t have to be permanent. There are  programs that help with these types of issues. If simply talking to your family or teachers isn’t enough, a variety of programs are designed just for rehabilitation from depression. Teens  tend overlook these programs because they are either in denial or they are ashamed. But it’s okay to talk about being depressed and having thoughts of suicide. If fact, it’s much better to fix a problem while it’s in your hands now than to wait until it’s a permanent issue.

I hope the boy I saw at lunch gets help soon and realizes what he’s doing to himself. Not only does it hurt him, but it also hurts others around him. When I saw those cuts on his arm, my heart broke and I just wanted to give him a hug to let him know everything will be okay. Currently he doesn’t want help and I respect that, but I pray that he’ll open up to somebody before he does something stupid.

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