I CAN HAZ APARTMENT
You will never have to lose yourself to win me over.
“A lot of you cared, just not enough.”
- Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
For the third time this year, I received an email about a student suicide at my school.
How far into the depths of despair does someone have to descend before he/she decides to kill him/herself? How can someone get to those depths without anyone else noticing?
What are we doing wrong?
Well, lots of things.
1. The obvious: there is an appalling lack of focus on mental health at this school. It’s not that our mental health services are bad. It’s that they’re underfunded and understaffed. Students have cried out repeatedly for something to change. Instead, NU’s administration is dedicating millions of dollars to building an athletes-only gym, right next to the existing enormous sports and aquatic center and in addition to the 2 other gyms we have on campus (seriously, NU? Seriously? Wake up.). This year’s 10K Initiative ($10,000 to be spent according to a student ballot), included the option of building a giant bronze statue of Willie the Wildcat, but no mention of any changes to our Counseling and Psychological Services.
Basically, mental health is being swept under the rug, even though I am willing to bet that the majority of students at Northwestern (including myself) have suffered from some sort of anxiety or depression during their time here.
2. Even though Northwestern University prides itself on its happy and vibrant student community, one only has to go to the library during midterm and finals week to see that this image is very very far from the truth. I will never forget that night during my sophomore year when the person studying across from me dropped his pencil, curled up in the fetal position under the desk, and started to weep. And I will never forget his face when I joined him under the table and rubbed his back until he stopped crying. He looked at me like I had just saved his life. And he also looked utterly and completely surprised, as if he had not expected any help at all, from anyone.
3. This brings me to the most important point: compassion. We don’t have enough of it here. For the most part, students at this school are incredibly intelligent and motivated, but they just don’t care about the people around them. I’m not talking everyday politeness and decency - there’s plenty of door-holding and please-and-thank-you-ing on this campus. I’m talking about true compassion. I’m talking about going out of your busy, self-absorbed way to help someone who needs it, even if that person is a stranger.
So, next time you leave your place of residence, have a positive interaction with at least one person. Look up from your smartphone and try smiling at someone while you walk - you might make her day. (And you know what? You’ll probably feel better too.) Pay attention to the people around you. Be aware when someone might need help. The signs are there, you just need to care enough to see them. And if someone needs help, even if he is a stranger, try doing something nice, something encouraging. Reach out, even if it’s just for a second. Make contact, even if it’s just through a smile. Make him feel like he isn’t alone.
Because no person should ever feel so insignificant and alone that he decides that his existence is worth nothing.
No person, here or anywhere, should ever feel like she is beyond help.
No person should ever be surprised that someone else cares.
Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.
today was a shit day
All the more reason to find a reason to smile:
Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 19 No. 3 - III. Andante
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Emanuel Ax, piano