Really important life lessons from a seven year old

The other afternoon I was walking my dog, Tony, and we ran into one of our little neighbor friends. I’ll call her Alice. Alice is a beautifully sensitive and intelligent child with long, curly, light brown hair, twinkling eyes, and a smile that lights up her face. She is also quite the fashionista.

Alice loves Tony, and whenever she is outside playing we stop to visit for a few minutes. Alice is easy to talk to and wise beyond her years.

On this particular day, Alice was not quite her usual sparkly self. I asked her what was going on. She said her friend at school had threatened to commit suicide. My heart sank. I could not fathom someone of Alice’s age being so unhappy in life that she would want to end it.

I asked Alice if she though her friend really would kill herself, and the sad answer was yes. And in fact the friend had purposely cut herself in the past. Alice went on to tell me that she told her teacher about her friend’s threat, and the teacher took appropriate action to stop this girl from harming herself (at least this time).

It took a lot of courage for Alice to speak to the teacher about her friend. The teacher might have ignored Alice. The friend might have turned on her. But Alice knew what she needed to do, and she did it.

Alice also told me that she had made friends with this girl in the first place because the other kids at school bullied her.

What a brave child Alice is. I’m not sure that I would have had the courage to get involved in this kind of situation when I was seven, but Alice didn’t think twice. I’ve learned a lot from Alice about compassion and being there for someone. And I’ve learned about taking a risk and getting involved.

Where do we, as adults, see troubled souls and don’t get involved? It is estimated that Americans attempt suicide 1.1 million times annually. And there are so many senseless killings and other acts of violence committed by people who are hurting deeply in some way. But we don’t see the signs. Or we ignore them because we don’t want to get involved. Or maybe we simply don’t know what to do.

I challenge you to pay attention to those around you, and learn to look for the signs. Listen to their cries for help, and then do something. There are many resources on the internet with information on depression and suicidal tendencies. Please take a proactive approach. You never know whose life you might save.