In this particular blog I won’t be talking about technology. I will be writing about topics that may be sensitive for some people (school shootings and suicide). If you don’t like reading about that, please click out right now.
My mother has a blog of her own (it’s in Spanish) and today she published a fantastic post concerning a recent event that happened in my home country, Mexico. There she talks about the Monterrey’s American School shooting and of an experience I lived during high school. I thought it was important talking about these kinds of things without taboos to help those that have lived something similar and don’t know how to deal with it. So here it goes. I’ll first describe what happened in Monterrey for some context.
A couple of days ago, in a school in Monterrey, a 15 year old shot some of his classmates and his teacher before shooting and killing himself. Many discussions have raised throughout the country from this event and people have been quick to blame the parents and the school for not having done anything to prevent the event. To those people I say, it’s easy to start finding culprits without knowing a damn thing about the ones involved and the situations behind the act.
My experience in this field was due to a rather close friend of mine who shot himself during recess. We all heard the gunshot and thought it was something else (most of us had never heard a gunshot before). Police, ambulance and his parents arrived. I saw them getting him out of the classroom and I couldn’t think straight. I remember trying to find other alternatives to what had happened, I thought “oh, definitely a burglar broke into the school and he was there so he got shot”, or “he probably just fell and accidentally hurt himself”.
Facing reality in those movie-like scenarios is tough. I wasn’t coping with the facts and I didn’t want to either. I can distinctly remember the smell of blood that flooded the entire school (or at least it seemed to) and I couldn’t believe that only hours prior we were talking and making plans of going to the movies or something. It took me hours waiting in the hospital, watching people come and go, not knowing anything and my mother quite literally dragging me out to get some sleep to accept what had happened.
The next couple of days were just torture. Newspapers quickly started writing articles about it and each had their own version of the facts. None were true. A fake Facebook profile of him was created and started liking pages like “Suicide”, “Guns” and “School Shootings”. I was mad at everyone and everything. I couldn’t believe “reliable” sources like the news were lying to everyone and twisting what had happened to get more rating. I was shocked that some idiot had actually taken the time to create a fake profile to make fun of someone who had just shot himself and was in a very delicate state. But most of all, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done anything to prevent this situation.
Looking back, he showed every sign of being troubled in some way but no one noticed until it was too late. Rumors started coming in. More bullets and syringes were found in his locker. A philosophy essay he had written weeks prior started making sense. His photography blog made sense too. His sudden social retraction. Everything. My brain was rushing, thinking about every single detail of our entire friendship trying to find a detonator, a cause. But, as far as my deep research went, there was none.
People are quick to blame everyone and everything to justify a horrible event. It isn’t always as simple and most times parents aren’t responsible for these tragedies. I knew this guy’s parents, and I know they aren’t to blame. No one is, really. It took me years of therapy to understand that and, to this day, I am prone to blaming myself about every bad thing that happens to me or the people I love.
If you have been in a similar situation, I have a super cliche phrase to help you out: “this too shall pass”. It seems impossible at first, and you’ll be drowning in your own thoughts, dealing only in the what if’s. First of all, this was not your fault. Stop even thinking about the possibility of you being the one to blame, you are not. Secondly, it might take you years to be able to talk about it without tearing up, without getting scared. No, you’ll never forget it, you’ll never be the same, but you’ll be fine. I had PTSD for a good 3 years and there are still some movie scenes that will get me to bawl my eyes out and go back to what happened (the scene in the movie “3 idiots” is the biggest trigger ever). I got better, you will too.
If you haven’t lived anything like this. You are very lucky and I wish you never do. However, you can always detect if someone is having a rough time and help them before they do something reckless. Talk to people, let them know you’re there for them in any situation they find themselves in. Keep your friends and family close, talk to your brothers, sisters and cousins, let them know you’re their ally. Never underestimate a “Hey, wanna talk?”.
Finally, I leave you with this fantastic video that shows how most people often leave clues before doing something bad or do things to seek help. Be part of those who help. If you need someone to talk to, I’m always here for you no matter the reason.