This is what middle school is really like

by a middle schooler

This totally fake middle school picture of happy children is brought to you by your imagination

Note from Anne Moss: When I spoke at the Shady Grove YMCA, there were mostly parents, but a few teens there and one of them talked to me after about the culture at her middle school. Quite different than most of us think although having been in schools and in the Y with teens, this came as no surprise to me. This isn’t just one school. This is common and indicates our culture has a problem. After we talked, the young lady wrote this on one of the index cards I had out for that purpose. 

I am in middle school and so many people cut themselves, are depressed or suicidal. Many of them don’t try to get help. They won’t accept S.O.S help* or help from their friends if they are given help.

Sometimes they will deny it to their death that anything is wrong. Then feeling betrayed by whomever reported them, they will distance themselves and become angry and their situation worsens. Even worse than these cases,  is when people are afraid of friends getting mad and don’t report it.

That is the real betrayal. Because they are so scared of losing them as a friend, they forget that by not helping them, they might be losing that person’s life.

When SOS came, people would mock the videos and still joke about suicide and even did during the event. A friend of mine who has had two suicides in her family was sitting in front of people who were joking and I could tell that it hit deep.  I don’t know what can help, but your story tonight might. Thank you.

*SOS=Signs of Suicide, a program introduced to some area schools to talk about suicide and open up the conversation. It is a highly regarded program from SAMHSA

 

Presenting to teens about mental illness and resilience

Author: Anne Moss Rogers

I am the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am President of Beacon Tree Foundation, advocates for youth mental health as well as a writer and public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. I was a marketing professional for years prior to losing my son and co-owned a digital marketing firm.

7 thoughts on “This is what middle school is really like”

  1. Well my daughter went through similar period of time. We found cutting marks on her forearms and we talked. We talked a lot … Sometimes 4-5 hours and all over again. The final word on this was: this was a stupid mistake and I did it because all others did the same. They don’t think, they just flow with the crowd and this is the scariest part. Because everybody does it I have to do it too just not to be different than others. She found herself in expressing her feelings in drawings later .. some of them were really scary. Anyway, she’s almost 20 now and we’re just laughing when we talk about middle school times.
    What would help .. well that’s a tough question, very tough. We are as many others, immigrants to this country and I believe that huge spike in immigration in last 10 years caused this absurdity in youth behavior. We’re going from extreme to extreme. Frontal cortex is still under development and youths don’t understand jews, christians, muslims, hindus and who knows what else. It’s diversity and cultural habits which makes this whole situation worse. Parents are trying to understand and respect others and because of this respect, they can not discipline their kids, they can not guide them through life. And if they do, they’re being pointed at and their child is becoming weirdo in the society because family has different values than others around. Kids don’t want to be weirdos, they want to be ‘cool’ and ‘popular’ and this is another aspect of their life which is likely going to be a failure for their underdeveloped frontal cortex. To be ‘cool’ and ‘popular’ at school brings joy and also responsibility. If parents are making their life joyful and support them in every aspect then kids have nothing to worry about, nothing to take care about thus no responsibility. All of the sudden, your kid became a ‘popular kid’ at school and many eyes are now pointed to that little kid expecting him to be a ‘leader’ of the pack (in most cases). This could be a breaking point where that little brain either breaks or becomes stronger ..

    I’m sorry for making this long but Anne’s presentation brought mixed feelings into my mind. When I left I felt like we’re trying to heal consequences rather than trying to find and heal the cause. If we focus on healing consequences, we’ll see the same sick behavior all over again and this will become never-ending circle to solve. I believe we, as parents, should start with ourselves and figure out one thing: where in the world are we running to since we have very little time for our kids. As Anne said during the presentation: Just stop, don’t run, just stop. There are many ways to make ourselves to be better people … it’s not society, it’s not lack of funding, it’s not companies .. all these things exist because we as an individuals make them to be this way. So once you start healing yourself things will become slowly better because we are part of that never-ending circle and VERY IMPORTANT part of it.

    1. I believe in looking at the core issue. I started seeing an alarming trend in website statistics oddly enough in the year 2008. I thought for a long time we as a society were becoming less connected. Science has now caught up to this theory and it’s the one I presented at NIMH in January. That connection starts with family. And you started that process with your daughter and got through a difficult time. My presentations are uncomfortable and people don’t like being uncomfortable. But for change to take place, we have to be uncomfortable first. I will say that losing a child gives you the gift of a new perspective. Of seeing through a clearer lens. Why couldn’t I see that before?

      I always worried about Charles being so popular. Even wished he wasn’t. So much pressure. And it is lack of coping skills. They simply don’t have the coping skills due to not having as many opportunities to learn them as my generation did.

      I do agree that it starts in your home with your family. I’m so glad your daughter is doing well now and can look back and laugh. She learned something in that process and how to deal with adversity in a healthier way.

  2. I believe this to be true. We need less talk, and more treatment, more funding, compassionate Heath care system, more beds for mental crisis, and RESEARCH! I wish Curt had received the dedicated, excellent Heath care that my daughter, Rachel received when she had Sarcoma. Thank God, Rachel is healed, my Curt had to die to be “healed”.

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