When I was 11-years-old I was proud of my Jewish heritage.
I thought it made me unique.
When I was 12-years-old I became a victim of bullying and discrimination.
My family and I just moved to a small town in North Carolina about four months beforehand. Everything was going great until we had to talk about our heritage.
I stood up in front of my class and as soon as I started talking about my Jewish family, the class fell silent. I could feel their eyes burning into me, as if it was my fault I was different.
That day, the bullying started.
The town itself was very small, only 2,578 people lived there and everyone was white, southern Baptist and hated anyone outside of that type.
Suddenly my friends turned against me, they would tell me that I needed to go to their church otherwise I was going to hell. But that was only the beginning.
Everyday I would come to the lunch table and they would look at me and stare.
Followed by comments that still haunt me today.
“I wish Hitler killed your family.”
“How come your family is the one that survived the Holocaust?”
“You’re going to hell.”
“Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Holocaust happened again?”
And then one day at lunch a comment that I never thought I would hear in my life left someone’s mouth.
“Why don’t you play the hanging game?”
Tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t speak. I asked myself how something so cruel and sadistic could leave a 13-year-old’s mouth.
That day I wanted to play the hanging game. That day I wanted to end my life.
The bullying continued as my depression was swallowing me. Every night I would lay down, their comments would swirl around my mind. I thought I had lost it all.
But I survived.
Suicide is not a joke or a game. It’s someone’s life.
Almost nine years later thinking about this time makes me tear up and just because I’m older doesn’t mean the memories faded.
Even today, people tell me discriminating comments about my culture or beliefs.
And the words sting just as much as they did then.
This week is world suicide prevention week. Please take into consideration what someone else may be going through, their past and their triggers.
Sometimes people fight wars you know nothing about.
Don’t be the final shot.