Just last week, here in Santa Clarita, where I live, a young boy took his life and the lives of two other teens on his 16th birthday.
Along with my neighbors, I feel a deep sadness on many levels for ALL of us involved - the families, the students, the community, the country.
I find myself in deep curiosity about how this possibly happened - that a young boy, on his 16th birthday would choose to kill others and himself.
I don't blame anyone that this boy did what he did, in the same way I don't blame sugar and fast food restaurants for making people unhealthy and sickly.
Everyone has free will and the right to make choices in this country.
However, perhaps some are unable to exercise their free will in a way that is balanced when feeling at odds with life or oneself, or depleted in some way.
As adults, as a society, a community...we have the right to consider this event, or not, and ask ourselves...what can we do to help our young ones, and really anyone, whose emotional state leaves them with feelings of helplessness and desperation.
I wonder what circumstances may have led to this young person to do what he did.
What I do know is that the teenage brain is not yet fully developed leaving teens vulnerable when in a state of stress or with uncomfortable emotions. Also, regardless of age, some of us, like myself, are wired to be more sensitive, while others are a bit more resilient, like my husband.
In any case, we must ask ourselves, what IS happening in our culture that more and more suicide, violence, unhealthy people, depression, stress and anxiety have seemingly become the new norm.
I can't help but ask if these incidents might be our wake-up call to help each other more. To smile more, to give more, to be kind more, to act more as a human family in collaboration with, and acceptance of each other.
I remember reading an article pointing out that when 911 - a crises- happened in New York City and Pennsylvania, people naturally helped each other.
And so, on a planet where ice caps are melting, garbage is polluting the very ground that provides our food, families are splintering over political or religious polarities, people are starving and homeless - and a young boy killed two teens and took his own life on his 16th birthday - I'd say we ARE in crises.
What to do?
1. If you're a parent, love your child even more. Especially if they're a rebellious teen, understanding that the rebellious behavior is their language of discomfort as they try to figure themselves out and their place in the world.
2. When you are out in the world, offer a smile to everyone which validates that they matter enough in the world that you saw them AND smiled.
3. If you have a little extra money, help the poor. When you help others, it comes back to you with a full heart.
4. Go for a walk and connect with nature and the miraculous beauty and peace she offers. Take better care of our planet by recycling, using less plastic, donating unwanted goods - because the planet needs our help too.
5. Take even better care of yourself. Consider learning about, and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a simple practice that encourages one to be aware of your present moment in ways that are non-judging, accepting, patient, trusting, open-hearted, so that you have more balance and alignment with yourself and your emotions. Additionally, there is a great website: Helpguide which is produced in Santa Monica and a tremendous resource for well-being.
Remember, when you're good...the world IS even better. We're in this together. Let's work together.