It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting to read when I opened the email from one of my former English students:
Hey, I know this is kind of out of the blue, but I just started songwriting. One of the songs I wrote is about suicide. I hope to show people who experience suicidal thoughts that there are people who love them, that suicide doesn’t get back at people who’ve hurt them, that it hurts the people they’re closest to. If it's ok with you, I would like to dedicate it to Jenna. I've included the lyrics for you to read if you don't think it would be too painful. If it is, I completely understand. I'm so sorry to throw this at you.
I can’t think of anything more worth sharing for National Suicide Prevention Month. The story within Olivia’s beautiful song is so powerful, so heart-wrenching, so true. I urge you to take four minutes to listen to it. If only we could remember these words when depression and lying suicidal thoughts arise, I believe far fewer lives would end before their time.
by Olivia Henn
Several years ago I attended a funeral which shouldn't have had to take place—at least not for a very long time.
She was a young teenager—beautiful, full of life, and a joy to everyone around her. Unfortunately, she was the victim of some bullying at her school, and somewhere along the way she lost hope.
Sadly, I never had the opportunity to know her. Watching her pictures scroll across the screen and hearing countless testimonies from all the people who loved her, I could only cry and imagine the pain her family was going through. I was much younger then and couldn’t understand why anyone who had touched the lives of so many would ever take their own life.
Time passed. During February of last year, I read Beth Saadati’s blog post “3 (or 13) Reasons Why Not: From One Left to Survive a Non-Fictionalized Suicide” in response to the book and Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why. This inspired me to write my first song.
I wanted to acknowledge that deep sense of loneliness and helplessness that so many teenagers experience, but also express that suicide is not the answer. Even in the midst of struggles, you are still a light to the people around you. Although the pain of open wounds, broken circumstances and despair seem all-consuming, there are so many beautiful moments left to look forward to.
No matter how bad things get, there is still hope. Please, if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, don't hesitate to reach out.
U.S. National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255
Olivia Henn is a senior in high school. She loves running, listening to music, writing songs, and spending time with her friends and family. She hopes to attend college in Nashville and pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. Her dream is to write songs that touch people’s hearts and positively impact their lives.