Voices at Bedford High School: Reflections on the Death of a Fellow Student

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By Ryan Doucette, Class of 2021, Voices @ Bedford High School

**If you have any feelings of loneliness, anxiety, stress, or are struggling with depression know that you are not alone. Call 1-800-273-8255 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text HOME to 741741 to connect with the Crisis Text Line which offers free 24/7 crisis support in the United States.**

For any community, death is painful to cope with. Unfortunately, this is especially true in a community as tight-knit as Bedford.  The news of a young individual’s suicide hits our entire community hard with grief.

I cannot attest to how others will be coping at this time as no two people ever respond to such news in the same way. Loss is a uniquely individual phenomenon, something we all will come to face in our lives and will have to work through on our own or with the support of others. As someone who has previously struggled with the news of a young friend’s suicide, I understand exactly how hard that can be.

In September 2017, I lost a good friend, the kind who always had the biggest smile and would light up the entire room.  My friends and I were devastated when we learned of his passing. We felt we deserved blame, that we were at fault for what happened. We all struggled with the loss for quite some time. Eventually, we realized that wallowing in guilt was not what our friend would have wanted; continual grief would not stop others from taking their lives. Our guilt would not prevent a family member, a friend, or anyone we cared about from taking their own lives. Many of our friends had struggled with such issues. So instead of living in continual grief, we decided to turn our pain into proactivity to try to help others get the resources needed before they reached the point of no return. I offer that same advice to those affected right now: use your grief to help others and to help yourself.

There are people struggling in all of our lives including our academic peers and fellow teens.  They need our support and compassion.  Their often silent struggles may not be recognized in others around us before it is too late. Our lives are busy and hectic, we have our own problems, so it is oftentimes hard to notice those who might need a helping hand. While we cannot dedicate our lives exclusively to helping others — despite how good that might be — it is our duty to stay alert for the signs and alert for the opportunities to offer aid. Even a brief greeting on the street or a spontaneous text message can go a long way in someone’s life when they are experiencing feelings of unimportance or the lows of depression.

Going forward there needs to be a change not just in our community but in our society at large. Teenagers are often stressed and sometimes to a life-threatening degree.  It is our shared responsibility as peers, and the school as our educators, to watch out for one another. We need to know what the signs are and when we should get involved instead of being merely a bystander. That is our job as fellow human beings: to help not just others but ourselves, too, when we may question our own existence or face the rabbit hole of existentialism. There may be no way for us to stop these situations at the start but with education and preparation, we can learn how to notice when a friend might be in trouble and what we can do to help stop him or her from reaching the point of tragedy.

To those who knew Tyler: do not forget him. Remember your stories. Remember the good times. Remember the bad times. But do not forget him.

To honor Tyler’s memory, we must be there for each other.  As citizens of Bedford, this is what we can offer to those who are in distress.

The family of Tyler Green has suggested memorial contributions in Tyler’s name may be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 120 Wall Street, 29th floor, New York NY 10005 or go to www.afsp.org