My senior year of high school, a young woman came to talk to us students about a new suicide prevention “tool” called TXT4LIFE. She talked at a noisy, anxious gaggle of immature, tittering children for a meager 20 minutes about the program. We were even handed out bracelets with the intention of mild interest. All I deciphered from her speech was that a suicidal person needs solace and attention from friends, family, or a counselor because that is the only way to prevent suicide from occurring. This is a common tactic I’ve heard suggested by many others, but I fail to see the efficiency of it.
TXT4LIFE is similar to a suicide hotline as it is a way to converse with a counselor about your suicidal thoughts with the intention of surviving. However, you text instead of call the number, hence the name. The intention of this method is to be more hip to the younger population, assuming that younger people prefer to text instead of call. This pitiable bottom line draws some considerable regret and careful suspicion from the intellectual. For example, every ploy has its shortcomings. In this case, TXT4LIFE is presented in a scant few northern Minnesota counties and the counselors—mostly volunteers—work only for a couple hours a day. If this is unavailable in the majority of Minnesota at almost all hours of the day, it can’t possibly be a worthwhile lifesaver.
As if my initial vehemence for the program wasn’t enough, about two weeks after my high school received the visit from the TXT4LIFE sponsor, a sophomore girl committed suicide. It was the first teen suicide I had heard of in my hometown. Amid the shock and confusion, nobody mentioned TXT4LIFE because prior to her death, her suicidal tendencies were unknown. She did not discuss her problems with friends and family. She did not show any signs claimed by TXT4LIFE to be indicators of suicidal tendencies. Because of this, people attempted to explain away her death. She had been bullied. She was stressed out from her recent move to the country. She wasn’t doing well in school. Her parents pressured her. None of these turned out to be plausible causes, because in the sensitive event of a suicide, the true causes remain unseen by those who fear to accept the broken truth.
What was also hidden from unseeing minds seems to be that TXT4LIFE did not save this girl’s life. The fact that it was only one incident amidst many lives saved is not lost upon me, because a human life should not be a statistic to be lost among this company’s records compilation. TXT4LIFE is not an effective way to prevent teen suicide. Teens that are truly suicidal will not voluntarily seek help, especially not through a text message. If TXT4LIFE is such a valuable “tool” it must be made national and available 24/7. Even then, the organization must make its high school presentations watchable and educational, especially if they wish to go down the alleyway of teen suicide.