It made the top headlines. A teenage girl encouraged her friend to commit suicide. Records say she had over a thousand texts to intervene, and who knows how many more phone calls and conversations. He said he was scared and didn’t want to leave his family. Even got out of the truck before the carbon monoxide took over. But she urged him to get back in. And now she’s been called before a court of law—responsible, in part, for his death.
I wonder what the outcome would have been had she chosen to be part of the solution, rather than the problem—had she chosen to intervene, for the good. And though I can’t imagine influencing someone’s suicide attempt, I can’t help but ask how my silence in certain situations has contributed to a tragic outcome. Had I intervened—would the outcome have been different? Though I may never know, at least I’d have the peace of knowing I tried.
When it comes to something like suicide, I think we’d all agree on the importance of getting involved on behalf of a friend. But in other areas—those with less immediate consequences, we often stand quietly by, watching and wondering if things would be different if we’d just speak up. Our society is built on a faulty notion of a love that doesn’t intervene. We mistakenly believe that if someone is happy doing something—however self-destructive, the loving thing to do is to keep quiet. We fear being considered narrow-minded, even hateful, for saying something that could help.
Maybe there’s constant news of shootings and mass murders and other violence because no one was loving ENOUGH to say something when it needed to be said. If we had spoken truthfully, in love, when we saw a hint of a problem—or just had that gut feeling that something wasn’t right…maybe things would be different.
When I was a teen, I flushed a loved one’s liquor down the toilet because I saw its potential to destroy them. My actions wreaked havoc, initially. But in the end, it was a wake-up call that helped contribute to the ending of a potentially destructive addiction. It’s a decision I don’t regret, no matter how hard it was at the time. As mentioned in a past blog post, we may be misunderstood in the process. But that should never stop us from intervening for the good of those we love.