I have a student who is cutting himself. And he is a student I absolutely adore. And that hurts me. So much.
Another teacher discovered it. And when she inquired about it, other students said that he is talking about suicide on his Snapchat. She sent him to the councilor.
He came to see me after school. He does almost every day.
And so I asked about it.
“What am I hearing about you cutting yourself?”
“Did you cut yourself, Hot Mess?”*
“No, shrugging isn’t an answer. Why did you hurt yourself?”
“A lot of times people cut themselves when something is going wrong in their life. Something that they feel they can’t control. Is something going wrong in your life?”
“Here at school? At home? Both?”
“Hot Mess, are your parents fighting?”
“Is someone hitting you?”
“Are you in a situation that you need to leave? Should you not be in the home you are in?”
“This is important, Hot Mess. This is a big deal. Because you matter. Stop looking at your shoes. Do you believe me that you matter?”
“Look at me. I don’t lie to you. We mess around in my class, but I don’t lie to you. Not now, not ever. YOU MATTER. Someone hurting you is NOT OK. You hurting you is NOT OK.”
“Did you get to talk to the councilor?”
“Here is the plan for tomorrow. I am going to email your first period teacher, and he will send you to the councilor. And if he doesn’t, or the councilor isn’t there, your fourth period teacher will send you. And if she doesn’t, I will send you during my class. Ok?”
“Are you safe tonight? Will you be ok tonight?”
This kills me inside. I want to just take him home. I want to fix it for him, but some days I can’t even fix my own life, much less someone else’s. So I will go home and have a drink and pray a lot. And ask my friends to pray too, and get up tomorrow and do it again.
*I don’t call him Hot Mess, but it is my nickname for him, so as not to give away his identity.