Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Statistics Become Real

I've had a string of really busy days this week - starting very early and going very late. I have had very little sleep. Maybe that's why I've been in tears since I've been home and had the privacy to fall apart, but I think it's much more about a young person who's name I didn't know a few hours ago.

Today was National Anxiety Screening Day. The Mental Health Association I run was one of 1000 places around the country where you could get a free, confidential screening. I had a local mental health professional who agreed to do the screenings for me since I'm not trained to do them. Many MHA people do them anyway, but I don't feel comfortable with that so I always ask professionals to help and they're very generous about offering their time.

How it works is that people can come in, fill out a little questionnaire, and then talk to someone for free, all confidential.

It was a beautiful day here today and we thought we might have no one show up. But we did. And one of the people who came spoke the words that made my heart stop and my breath catch, "I just want to die."

I'm still new enough at this (3 years) that those words made my entire being shiver. It's one thing to hear suicide statistics. It's another to see a vital, young person talking about not wanting to live.

Hours later I'm still shaken up just from witnessing even part of the story - and really I had very little to do with helping this person. I'm more worried about what would have happened tomorrow if this screening hadn't happened today. That question has taken up residence in my soul and has settled into a place inside my core self. I don't think it will ever leave. But I'm not sure I can handle the responsibility and weight of carrying it with me.