Can a text message save a life? A 16-year-old teenager from Livermore says yes. Here’s the story of Christian, whose last name is being withheld for privacy.
Christian used to live in Sacramento, and because his mother was a drug addict, one day police raided their home to take his mother away.
He remembers her yelling at him, saying the arrest was his fault. She also said if it weren’t for him she would be happy.
Still, just before the police led her away, Christian shouted, “Mommy, I love you!”
Her response continues to haunt him.
“She said she didn’t love me and that if I loved her, I wouldn’t have let this happen,” he said.
This was one of the last times he saw her, and these devastating words changed his life. Although he was placed in a loving foster home, then adopted, and given everything he needed to succeed in life, his birth mother’s words stayed with him.
“I still felt so alone,” he said.
For attention, Christian started acting out in school and in church. He never talked to anyone about what he was going through. “I hid my feelings because I didn’t think anyone would care,” he said. In fact, Christian decided that whenever he had negative thoughts, he would force himself not to think about them. When this didn’t work and he became depressed, he decided to hide this as well.
This led to nightmares in which his mother’s words were repeated over and over.
Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore, so at age 13 he started drinking and using drugs. Finding only temporary relief, he tried to drown himself in a lake while working at a camp one summer. Half drunk, Christian fell into the lake and sank into the water’s darkness. He remembers the moon starting to fade when a senior camp employee jumped in and saved his life.
Several months later in December 2009, he attended a party where a girl he knew asked him what was wrong.
“I froze,” he said. “How did she know? I thought I was able to hide my world from everyone.”
Over the next six months, Christian told his friend about his boyhood. It felt good to talk about it, he said. When she learned about his use of drugs and alcohol, she told him to stop. Christian tried, but couldn’t stop. So again he saw only one solution: suicide. In June 2010, as he cut into his arm and the blood began to flow in his sink, he heard a buzz in his room from his cell phone.
“It was a text from my friend,” he said. She had typed “Sup,” short for “What’s up?”
“That text stopped me from killing myself,” Christian said. He decided to respond, and that was enough to distract him “from one of the stupidest decisions of my life,” he said.
Christian opened up even more to his friend. Again she wanted him to stop his substance abuse, but this time she asked him instead of telling him.
“I realized it was my choice now,” he said.
So Christian stopped. He started to focus on what matters in life. He grew closer to his parents. He stayed in touch with his friend.
“I was learning how to die and she taught me how to live,” he said.
Christian knows that life will be hard for him. “I will run into problems and I will stumble,” he said, “but as long I have my God, my family, and my friends, I will make it through.”
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