Depression Is Real and It's Impacting Students and Teachers

May 15, 2018 12:00:00 AM

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“If you had a superpower, what would it be?” I was asked this recently, as we opened up a school staff meeting on how to better assist students. I thought for a while, as I was thrown off by the question. “I would want to spread love to the world so that people could treat each other better.” I said with confidence. As I gave my response, I was reflecting on a post I saw on Facebook while flying home a few weeks ago. A former student of mine had committed suicide. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach when I read the news. I could not breathe, could not think, and could not move. I thought of his family, my other students, and the teachers I serve with. My eyes stung with tears as I bit down hard on my bottom lip to contain my emotions. As we got to 30,000 feet, I looked out of the window and saw things from a different perspective than they were on the ground—dark and gloomy. Above the clouds, the sun was shining, the clouds were full and bountiful, and I realized, on the other side of darkness is light. Depression is real and it impacts our students in ways that we cannot imagine. [pullquote position="right"]I have lost too many students over the years to suicide.[/pullquote] Even educators are turning to suicide as a way to escape their depression. My daughter Naima told me on Sunday, “Mom, this week at school, I am going to talk to the kids I normally don’t talk to. I am going to look for people who seem like they need someone to be nice to them, and I am going to be that person for them.” I hugged her tight—imagine how our schools could be if we all did this, imagine our world. At this time in our country, we need more empathy, more consideration of others, and more love for one another. I am going to commit to live on purpose, and to remind the students and educators that on the other side, above the darkness, there is light. I am committing to focusing more sharply on the social and emotional well-being of the people I connect to: teachers, students, parents and the community as a whole. Let’s all be our “brother’s keeper,” looking for signs of depression, lending a hand, and being present for one another. Will you talk to the student who is usually quiet? Stop by the teacher’s room who typically does not spend time with others? I hope you will—maybe we can spread love through these small acts that could save a life and remind each other that on the other side of the dark ominous moments of our lives, the sun is shining, and there is hope.
You can #BeThe1 to help prevent suicide. Head to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Kelisa Wing

Kelisa Wing is the author of "Weeds & Seeds: How To Stay Positive in the Midst of Life’s Storms" and "Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline" (both available on Amazon). She also is a 2017 State Teacher of the year, speaker, teacher and activist for discipline reform. Kelisa holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland University College, a master of arts in secondary education and an educational specialist degree with a concentration in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership from the University of Phoenix. She is currently enrolled at Walden University in the doctor of education program. All views expressed are her own and do not reflect the views of any others.

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