He was a quiet kid, always had been. He roamed silently through the halls, avoiding eye contact with nearly everyone.
Recently though, as impossible as it seemed, he got more quiet.
Between classes, he now walked behind his friends instead of beside them. Each day he sat increasingly further from people at lunch.
And nobody seemed to care.
One Monday he returned home, the same as always. Happy. He put on a big smile and kissed his mother hello. He told her that he was tired and was going to take a nap.
He took the stairs up to his room two at a time, just the way he always had. When he reached the top his mother called after him, “Don’t forget your medication. ”
“I never do, mom”
And so he sat on his bed and picked up the plastic orange bottle on his nightstand. It had been refilled.
He took two pills and shut the light, lying down and closing his eyes. A moment later he sat up again and read the bottle. He read it again and again. Something written at the bottom of the label caught his eye.
Do not exceed your prescribed dose without consulting your doctor. If you do exceed your prescribed dose, seek medical help immediately.
There was something about the immediate need for help after taking just one too many pills, he wasn’t sure what it was but he could not take his mind off it.
He thought about the recent weeks. The thoughts that had taken over his mind.
Maybe these will get me high. Maybe I won’t have to think about things if I’m high.
Slowly he opened the bottle and swallowed another pill. And another. And another. Until the bottle that was supposed to last him the next two weeks was empty.
He lied back on his bed and closed his eyes, smiling. After a few minutes, he started to feel better. When he opened his eyes, the room seemed brighter, the world seemed happier.
How nice. He thought.
And slowly, he drifted off.
An hour passed, then two, and then his father returned home and dinner was ready. His mother climbed the stairs to her only sons bedroom to wake him.
She opened the door quietly to see him asleep on his bed. How peaceful he looked. She smiled at her youngest child and walked across the room to his bed. She sat beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Honey, wake up. Dinner’s ready.”
He didn’t move.
“Sweetheart, come on. I made your favorite!” She shook him gently.
Still he didn’t move.
“You’re scaring me honey, let’s go.”
She shook him again. Harder this time.
Frantically his mother looked around his room. And her eyes caught sight of an empty orange bottle on the nightstand beside her sleeping son.
“What did you do?!” She yelled.
She shook her son harder and then called for her husband.
By the time the ambulance had arrived, their son was gone.
Two days later and his whole family was dressed head to toe in black. One by one those who loved him walked up to his open casket to say their goodbyes.
Hundreds of teenagers filed in, one behind the other, until it seemed his entire school had showed up.
His devastated mother sat in the front, watching the people as they knelt down next to her son. Her eyes were puffy and her face was red.
As his classmates walked past her they each said how sorry they were. But all she could think about was that none of them had done anything to help her beloved son.
It didn’t have to end this way.
If only one of them had said that something with him seemed off. Or that he was now more quiet than usual. He would’ve been there.
If only one of them had asked how he was, if he was okay. He would’ve been there.
Three simple words can make all the difference. If someone seems off, something isn’t right. Even if they lie and tell you that they’re alright when they aren’t , showing you care can mean the world.
Just ask them. “Are you okay?”.
See ya soon!!!