A Somber But Important Anniversary by Erika Guy, Dean of Students
On or around September 26 each year I request some Assembly time to address the school community. September 26 marks an anniversary that I would sooner choose to forget but one that I cannot and will not ignore. Each year, I mark and publicly honor the day. Sadly, on September 26, 1991, a student in the Nobles community took her own life. She was a junior, a beautiful young woman on the threshhold of her own life. Her tragic decision on that day shaped the lives of so many who knew her and cared for and about her. Her tragic reasoning, which took her from us forever, echoes the reasoning that is often the territory of adolescents.
I usually mark the anniversary of her death by speaking to the students about her, allowing them in some small and remote way to know her. That young woman died because she believed that there was no relief possible for the relentless pain she felt. She had so little life experience that she felt there was no way out. Adolescents, by dint of their age, are life-experience “deficient”. They have not yet amassed enough experience working through disappointment, defeat and heartache to know that the challenges life throws at them are survivable. It is a sad fact that each year in the U.S. thousands of teens commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds (from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website).
Adolescents experience strong feelings during this period of their lives: stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, fear of disappointing, financial uncertainty, loneliness, etc. The primary message I share with students at Assembly is that the community here at Nobles is very special. It includes countless layers of support for them. From the students sitting beside them, to their classroom teachers, their advisors, their coaches, our counseling staff and the class deans, this community is filled with people who care. All students need to do is reach out and tell someone. They should never feel devoid of options. The bottom line message from me was the mantra that guides much of what I do: Never Worry Alone.
Thanks for reading,