“Is it normal to want to hurt yourself after a breakup?” an anonymous question read.
You can imagine how taken aback CPR instructor Mrs. Green* was when she read that slip of paper written by a 6th grader at the end of CPR Week.
We encourage participants to write anonymous questions to their instructors as CPR Week ends, asking for clarification on anything they’re still curious about. Their CPR instructor then answers those questions in front of the class. This question certainly took Mrs. Green by surprise.
Thinking on her feet, Mrs. Green used the unique moment to address the class, reminding them that there are healthier ways to deal with feelings of rejection, such as finding a trusted, caring adult to talk with about their feelings. She then asked if the author of the note would stay after class so they could have a chat.
Thankfully, he did.
His name was Nick*.
Nick revealed that he’d been dating a girl he liked but, because his friends had been pressuring him to act a certain way in the relationship and he complied, she broke up with him. Not only was Nick sad about the breakup, but his friends teased him for messing the relationship up. Now, he had neither his girlfriend nor the respect of his friends, and he felt alone.
“Have you talked with your parents about what happened?” Mrs. Green asked.
“No,” Nick replied, “but suicide has happened in my family before.”
Nick said the only way he knew how to NOT make the same mistake again was to punish himself.
Mrs. Green explained that Nick’s friends shouldn’t have pressured him to act in any way he wasn’t comfortable with. She also encouraged him to go back and apologize to the girl, explaining to her why he’d been acting the way he had. But, most importantly, Mrs. Green reminded Nick that self-harm would not take away his feelings of being alone and rejected. She gently urged him to find a healthier way to process and cope with his feelings.
Nick’s classroom teacher later addressed Nick’s friends and reminded them of the agreement all students had signed at the beginning of the year, stating they’d help and not hurt, encourage and not tear down one another.
Mrs. Green notified school counselors about Nick’s emotional state and they took over caring for him.
Though Nick’s classroom teacher had been encouraging good values throughout the school year, his friends had not listened. Nick was struggling with the way he was being treated and hearing CPR’s message helped Nick identify that. CPR’s unique atmosphere of open peer-to-peer and participant-to-instructor dialogue helped Nick feel safe enough to reveal these thoughts he’d been having. What a wonderful example of one of the many ways CPR’s program helps young people identify and work through relationship struggles of their own!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of everyone involved.
P.s. Do you or someone you know struggle with thoughts similar to Nick’s? You’re not alone! Text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 next time you feel these thoughts surfacing, or encourage someone you know to. Someone is always ready to listen.