Theresa, seventeen, left a heart-wrenching voicemail.
I called her back.
Theresa describes herself as a “loner”. She doesn’t trust people. Her best friend, whom she grew up with, thought Theresa was becoming “too different” and said she could no longer be friends with her. Theresa changed her appearance last year. She’s been dressing in all black, “Gothy”. She pierced her upper lip and her left eyebrow. “I wear ‘heavy’ makeup now”.
Theresa told me a tragic story. Three years ago, while shopping in Safeway, she turned in an aisle and noticed a seventeen year old boy staring at her. He had the same exact items in his hands that Theresa did. “That was so random.” His name was Lionel. Lionel was terribly shy. She and Lionel became fast friends. She was basically Lionel’s first friend. He’d been home-schooled his entire life. Lionel’s parents divorced when he was eight. The only person he’d really talked to the last ten years (outside his mother and his abusive step-father) was his tutor. Theresa said Lionel was “super sweet, a gift to the world”. Lionel hanged himself last year. It devastated Theresa. She’s still reeling from it. She said Lionel didn’t leave a suicide note. She feels he did it because he was in so much pain from his parents’ divorce and his inability to connect with people and his inability to connect with the world. “He was so different, in a good way.” I told Theresa that many people have called me who’ve either attempted suicide or know people that have committed suicide. They all say the same thing to me. “You get to a point where you feel trapped. You see no way out. You lose all hope. The only breath of life becomes death”.