Yesterday I wrote a letter to my daughter Annie (and her friends and all other teenagers). The letter was in response to the suicide of a beautiful, talented, well-loved 16-year-old girl. The message was "Have someone." If you haven't read it yet, please do so here.
Today my mind has been filled with aching for this child who felt such deep despair that she made a tragic decision. I've prayed for her parents and siblings who must be wondering "why?" I've imagined her friends, gathered and wondering what they missed, what more they could have done.
I don't presume to have any answers. But I do have another message for you, Annie. And for Charlie and Robbie and all of us.
Be someone who is willing to walk across the cafeteria or the playground to talk to the person who is always standing alone, no matter what others might say.
Be someone who steps outside of your circle to partner up with someone you don't know very well for the science project or the sit-up challenge in gym class.
Be someone who smiles and holds the door open and says "I like your hair" or "You are a good artist" or "How was your weekend?"
Be someone who really listens -- puts down the cell phone, the video game remote, the laptop and listens with your ears, your eyes and your heart.
Be someone who hears what others are saying...and what they are not.
Be someone who refuses to laugh at another person's expense.
Be someone who isn't defined by a group or a label like "hipster," "jock," or "nerd." Instead be someone who has friends in all those groups and who can bring people together.
Be someone who is honest, who doesn't sugarcoat your own life. Be real so other people can see that we're all in this human-ness together, that we all struggle.
Be someone who lets others know that they matter.
Be someone who isn't afraid to break a friend's confidence and go to an adult if you think they are in danger.
I know it sounds like a tall order. But I know you can do it.
I believe in you.