Editorial: Break the silence
The loss of a 15-year-old’s life is a tragedy under any circumstances and will greatly impact those who were touched by it. In many ways, it will impact a fellow 15-year-old who loved him or her in a profound, life-changing way. In an odd coincidence, I have experienced that exact emotion myself, only in different circumstances, when I lost my best friend at that age due to illness.
At 15, many of us felt or feel like the world is filled with possibilities. In ideal health, we feel strong mentally and physically. We might feel a still-childlike sense of wonder and hope, tempered with the start of welcome independence.
And even in the most challenging of circumstances, when we are faced with a problem, if it is something we can’t handle, many of us have moms and dads who can help.
The loss of someone we love can turn our worlds upside down in any situation. The loss of someone our own young age, without warning, whom we love, can send us careening into unfamiliar and heartbreaking territory. It can make us feel without roots below and without hands to hold above. When that loss is a suicide, it adds a whole new layer of pain and regret. There are many adults and children who would justifiably retreat into a cocoon of their own grief and comfort.
Faced with the unthinkable heartbreak of the loss of her cousin Sean, also 15, Lily didn’t retreat. Instead, she is using her pain and loss as a motivation to fight to save other lives like Sean’s — those who are hiding their own battle with depression.
Lily’s approach is honest and her message is clear. She wants to remove the stigma of talking about depression and suicide. She wants to push us all into our uncomfortable zone. Because Lily knows what this loss feels like now. So does her family. And she’s going to do all she can to prevent anyone else from doing this, or feeling it.
Lily should be applauded for her efforts and we as a community should do all we can to support this mission. It should encourage us all to do some introspection and ask hard questions of those whom we love. It should force those of us suffering in silence to open our mouths, and our hearts, and reach out. Lily wants to hear from you. We want to hear from you.
While Lily knows this effort is too late for her much-loved cousin, she refuses to let the loss of his life be in vain.
If you would like to help Lily Genovese in her efforts, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.
If you or someone you love is at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.