September is Suicide Awareness Month

In observance of Suicide Awareness Month, we are sharing the narratives of young people we have worked with in New Orleans public schools that have expressed suicidal feelings. Names have been changed and identifying information has been removed, yet the stories are directly from the experiences of the youth.

We share these stories to remind us all to pay attention to our most vulnerable young people, have patience, listen and try to recognize when they need help. If you or anyone you know is experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, please share or contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you're looking for more information, referrals, or support, you can also contact the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI (6264). If someone is in an emergency, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Allison*, 13

I want to escape from my problems. I've had to deal with my mom being in jail and my dad killing himself while he was in jail. All of my siblings live in different places and I get kicked out of every home I've been in because I keep breaking the rules.

I've tried to escape before. I cut my wrists twice. After the last time, they made me go see someone and put me on medication, although sometimes they don't give it to me. I think about escaping a lot. Maybe it's because I don't trust anyone. I don't like my school. I don't like my home life, and I feel really alone. But I'm still here. I'm hanging on, y'all. But it's hard to get the strength to stay.


Johnathan*, 12

Do you know what it's like to be the man of the house at 12? I do. My brother just moved out, so now it's just me to take care of my little sister while my mom's at work. She has two jobs, so my sister is with me a lot of the time. I'm making it sound kinda easy, but it's really not. It's a lot of pressure. Especially since my Auntie just died a month ago, and she meant a lot to me. I think about her a lot and just get sad. Since she died, I can't concentrate. It's hard for me to fall asleep. Things just aren't as fun as they used to be.

On top of all of that, my neighborhood is scary. I don't feel safe at home, or in my neighborhood. And at night, I'm always thinking about what would happen if someone broke into the house. Maybe that's why I can't sleep well. Man, I dunno. But I guess a man has to step up to his responsibilities, right?


Nadia*, 13

I only eat once a day. You would, too, if your mom called you fat and ugly all the time. I dunno, maybe she's drunk when she says it, or maybe she's just bored. She lost her job a couple of months ago and doesn't seem to have anything else to do but drink and sit around in her room all day. My dad's around, and I have two little siblings, but it still gets to me and I don't really like myself. Other kids pick on me all the time, but at least I have one good friend. There are also two teachers in my school that I'm real cool with. Without those three, I dunno how I'd make it. But having them there, I'm actually doing well in school and getting good grades.

NICK*, 12

I think my family would be better off without me. My father lives out of state and never sees me. My mother is in jail. My brother is in jail. I live with my aunt, but I know they don't want me here. I never make friends because I click out on people too much. I don't know why, but I just get really angry at my teachers and the other kids in my school. Maybe it's because I don't sleep very well and I always have nightmares. I never really remember what happens, but they keep me from sleeping.

I'm always in trouble at school because I get in a lot of fights. Maybe everyone would be better off without me. I haven't tried to kill myself or anything, but I have thought about it. I feel like I'm all alone. I've gone to see a counselor before, but my aunt hasn't taken me in a while. If you were me, who would you talk to? How would you control yourself?

Lauren*, 13

When I wake up for school, my mom's already gone. I don't really see her until night time. She's my rock, though. My father died when I was in elementary school, but I didn't really know him well, anyways. My mom and I moved in with my grandmother recently, but they always fight and I don't really get along with my grandmother. It's just me and my mom. And since I don't get to see her that much, I'm really lonely when I'm at home.

I've been depressed for two years. I get tired all of the time. I feel hopeless. I'm not that interested in the things I used to do. It's hard for me to concentrate. Sometimes I even feel pain and aching in my body. Last month I thought about killing myself because it's just too much. I haven't thought through a plan, but I think it would be easier to not be alive. But what keeps me going is my mom. I told y'all she's my rock. As bad as it feels, I know she would be sad, and I don't wanna cause her that pain.

lindsey*, 13

Three years ago I moved to New Orleans from Texas. I was 10. I guess I'm still getting used to everything. I live with my mom and it's just the two of us. I don't know my father and I don't have any siblings or anything. It wouldn't be so bad, but my mom's boyfriend comes over all of the time. She spends all of her time with him and doesn't pay attention to me. I feel really lonely.

I've been cutting myself for a year. It's what I do when I feel lonely. I talk to a counselor at school, too, but I don't know if that's enough. The counselor told my mom to have me go talk to someone else, but she hasn't taken me yet. See what I mean when I say she doesn't pay attention to me! I wonder if she would notice if I went away?

shayna*, 12

My mother doesn't care about how I feel. Like, at all. She always says that I break the rules and don't listen to her, so I basically stay in trouble. And one time we had a really bad fight, I thought about killing myself. It's hard for us right now because we don't really have a home. So like, I can't always wash my clothes and I may not be able to get clean every day. Imagine how other kids treat me at school. But, like, what can I do? I can't get a job. We're lucky if family will let us stay with them.

arianne*, 12

Two years ago I saw my mom stab my dad. My mom went to jail and I left New Orleans to live with my grandmother, but she got sick so now I'm back here living with my father. Since I've moved back things have gotten bad for me.

My dad drinks a lot and it makes things worse. Most of the time I feel sad. I don't really like to eat anything, and life isn't fun anymore. It's hard for me to fall asleep, and when I do, I have nightmares about my family dying or leaving me. Aren't you supposed to feel better when you go to sleep? It just makes things worse for me. I don't feel safe, and I don't really feel like anyone loves me. I guess I have my brothers and sisters to help me, but what if I have to move again and I'm not with them anymore? Then what will I do? It just gets really bad sometimes and a little while ago I thought about killing myself. I got bad grades in school and my dad gave me a whooping. I hated it. I was just tired of it all. How can I focus with all of this going on?

corrine*, 14

Two years ago my grandma died and things haven't been the same since. I've been living with my mom and she just doesn't seem to care about me. My dad died when I was young, so it's just me and her. I really wish it wasn't. I wish I could still live with my grandma. She made me feel better about myself. Now all I can think about is how ugly and stupid I am.

I really try hard to be friends with people, but they always make fun of me. I don't think anyone would notice if I were dead. No one really loves me enough to care. I've thought about it. I'm worthless, they wouldn't notice. I do talk to someone a counselor at my school every week, but I don't really feel like I can tell her all of my business. It's hard for me to trust people. They want me to go speak to someone else, but my mom won't let me. It's weird, as much as she hates me, why does she care?

Gabrielle*, 13

I just moved to New Orleans and it's been pretty rough. My mom used drugs and drinks a lot, so I had to move in with my dad and his new family because she couldn't take care of me anymore. I used to talk to one of my sisters, but she just moved to Texas and we hardly talk anymore. I do really well in school, but it's been really hard recently to keep up my good grades. I don't get along with my step-mother, and it's really hard for me to pay attention now - I'm too stressed. And if I'm not stressed, I get stomachaches and feel really tired.

Maybe I feel this way because I'm pretty lonely. I don't have any friends and I don't like to go outside because my neighborhood isn't fare. I think about killing myself kind of a lot. I just don't think anyone would care if I died. I wonder if they'd really notice? But hurting myself is pretty scary, even though I feel like I've lost all hope.

melissa*, 15

Do you think anyone would care if you died? I don't. My father lives close but I never see him. My mom has two jobs and is almost never home. And I'm stuck with my step-father, but he's always drunk or just doesn't pay attention to me because he likes my older sister more. I guess maybe my little brother would care. I take care of him, so he'd probably notice if I were gone.

A year ago my best friend got killed in a car accident. Sometimes I think about killing myself so I can be with her in Heaven. I sneak alcohol from my step-dad and drink until I get sick. I smoke weed sometimes, too. Anything to help me feel better. I'm just so tired of it all and I've lost hope. I can't focus in school because I can't concentrate. Nothing's really fun anymore and I always feel tired. I think I'm depressed. If only my best friend were still here, maybe she'd care.

raquel*, 14

I can't stay focused because I'm worried about my mom. My dad's been in and out of jail my whole life. He's never really been there for me. My mom ended up getting with this dude that used to like stalk her. I never saw him hit her or anything, but I know something was wrong because she always had bruises and marks. Then three weeks ago, she got him put in jail.

I'm happy he's locked up, but before he went away he stalked her for like three months and my grades got bad because I couldn't focus on my work. I haven't been the same since then. It's hard for me to fall asleep at night, and when I do, I have nightmares. I'm worry about my mom being safe and I get really stressed. I started getting stomachaches and headaches, too. I can't concentrate. Other kids in school drive me crazy and I can't get along with my teachers, either. I get sad, then I get angry, then none of it even matters after a while, I have like no feelings. I've thought about killing myself, but it's just thoughts. I don't know how to be normal with so much on my mind.

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alicia*, 14

My mother died two weeks ago. She had a mental illness but ended up dying from an overdose. It's been really hard for me. I moved in with other family, but that's only for a little bit because I don't think they want me here for very long. I've been really depressed and they put me on medication. I've been on it for more than a year, but I don't always take the pills. I don't always go see a doctor or counselor or anything, either. But every now and then someone calls to check on me and help me talk about my feelings.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like if I got hit by a car. I don't have a plan to kill myself or anything, I've never tried to, but I do cut myself sometimes. I just don't have anyone to talk to. No family. No friends. I used to write or draw when I felt bad, but since my mom died, I haven't been able to. Now I eat a lot to feel better. People tell me I have "behavioral issues," what can I do?

dustin*, 13

Sometimes I black out and punch walls. It scares me when I realize what happened. I know why I get so angry - it's because of what I saw growing up with my dad. He used to beat on my mom, like a lot, and he didn't even care if I saw him do it. Two years ago she found out he had a baby with another woman, so they broke up. But I still go see him on weekends. I can't forget how angry he used to make me, though.

I'm afraid I'm gonna click out and go off on my dad instead of a wall. It really scares me. I don't wanna kill myself, but sometimes I feel like I just want to escape, you know? I spend a lot of time at my grandmother's house. I guess that helps me out. But will it help me not turn into my father?

tara*, 13

I'm stupid and I'm ugly. That's what my dad always tells me. I don't know why he always has to pick on me, there's five of us! I mean, he is really mean to my mother, too. When she's home, he yells at her a lot. But she works nights, so she's usually gone and I'm stuck with him.

About three weeks ago I thought about killing myself. I just can't take it anymore. I don't really want to die, but I got into another fight with my dad and I just wanna be really far away from him. I have nightmares and I get annoyed really easy. At school, I always go off on people. It doesn't take much, and my teachers don't know how to deal with me. I just don't like dealing with people that try to control me and tell me what to do. I don't really wanna go off on them, I just can't help it. I wonder what it would be like if I could leave my father? Maybe I'd be happier. But where would I go?

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christina*, 12

When my parents fell out, I didn't know what to do. It happened like a year ago and i thought about killing myself. Before they broke up, they used to argue all of the time and that used to really stress me out. I would cut myself because it made me feel better. As bad as it was then, when they broke up it actually got worse.

I'm lucky because I have a lot of family and good friends that I can talk to. I know everyone doesn't have that. I haven't cut myself in like a year, and I feel good about that. My dad moved in with his new girlfriend nearby us, but I never really see him. It's OK though, because I stay with my mom, my aunt, and my brothers and sisters, so I always have people around me that love me. I'm doing better now, but it makes me think, what would have happened if my family didn't have my back?

colin*, 12

My mom drinks a lot and it makes me really angry. It's hard because when she drinks, my dad doesn't help out and I have to take care of my little brother. I feel like I do more for my brother than my parents. But even though I'm trying really hard, I think I could do more, but I don't know how.

I get distracted because I worry about a lot of stuff. I'm not a happy guy and with this stress, I can't fall asleep and I don't have fun anymore. Other people aren't fun anymore. My mom got put in the hospital once. It's hard with her around, but it's even harder when she isn't there. I thought about killing myself. I'm glad I didn't do it, though. What would happen to my little brother if I weren't around? Someone has to protect him from my mom.

carl*, 15

I have to watch my 11 year-old brother all of the time with no help. We live with my mom, but she drinks a lot, so it's on me to watch him. Besides that, I just don't feel safe. Two of my good friends have been killed this past year and a half, and I've seen shootings in my neighborhood and fights at school. Having the police around the neighborhood all the time isn't helping, either.

It's hard for me to think about "my future." Do I have one? Will I make it to see 21? It's hard to have hope. Maybe that's why I'm so quick to click out on people. I get really angry and don't know how to control myself. I can't find things to take my min off of things, either. All of the things I used to like doing just aren't fun anymore. I think about death a lot, but I haven't planned to kill myself. There's no one to help me, especially since it's hard for me to make friends. People never understand where I'm coming from. But I do have some hope. I have hope for my little brother, even if I don't have it for myself.