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OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : No Death Is an Isolated Incident : Suicide: Just as others touch our lives with their presence, so they do with their absence. There are lessons in the pain of loss.

March 31, 1995|LAUREN DUNN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Lauren Dunn is a senior at Lutheran High School of Orange County in Orange

Since the beginning of the school year, my high school has had two suicides in its senior class.

Both were people that I knew on a personal level. After each death, I had the overwhelming feeling that I could have done more for that individual. I suppose this is a common feeling associated with suicides, but I had never experienced it before.

I encountered it this past September with the death of a girl I had known since my freshman year. We talked a lot, had a few classes together and ate lunch with the same circle of friends.

At the beginning of my junior year, however, I noticed a change in her. She started hanging out with a different crowd and began going to functions that I did not want to be a part of. Her choices and my convictions caused us to grow apart. There wasn't a big blowup that separated us; we simply had entirely different interests and priorities.

Her suicide was a wake-up call to me, and the message was clear and concise: Never neglect to be kind toward someone. Our days are numbered, and either of us may not be here tomorrow.

I regret not stating my concern for her choices when I first noticed a difference in them, and I regret the small things like not giving her a smile in the hall as we passed each other. If I had followed through with one of these, would the problems she was battling have diminished because she knew someone cared about her? I cannot be the judge of that, but I know now more than ever that making an effort to show someone they're important to you is vital.

*

The news of the second suicide came in January. An assembly was called in the middle of fourth period to inform the school of the tragedy. Although I had seen a few people crying earlier that morning, I never thought something of that magnitude had occurred.

I spent the rest of the day feeling numb all over and sorting through mental pictures of my classmate who had just killed himself.

I pictured him in my honors English class commenting on a story we had read and around school taking pictures for the journalism class I was in. I remembered how he made people smile and how he was always outgoing and friendly. His death was permanent; death affords no second chances for either side.

To those who have contemplated suicide, thank you for being strong and not following through with it.

Suicide is not cool, and it should not be looked at as such a thing. So many public figures who have done this are idolized, but this only makes the situation worse. The families and friends of those who have committed suicide are left to ask questions that may never be answered, and it only creates further turmoil for loved ones.

Whether you have experienced the loss of a friend to suicide, I urge you to do whatever you can to make those in your life feel needed.

By nature, humans want to feel acceptance. When there is a perpetual void in anyone's life, they sometimes runs from it the only way they know how . . . by committing suicide.

Whether you believe in God or only in fate, things that may seem to weigh you down happen for a reason. They will pass; this is certain. Hang in there, and be there when your friends need you. You may be the only thing they have.

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