As I view the television and see with horror the after shocks of Las Vegas my mind goes to “did not people see this coming?” And I realize that even when we start to see someone unravel we avoid the issue. I remember back to some of my students.
How do you know the situation with your students?
I taught for twenty seven years at the middle school level.
That is about one hundred and fifty students a year for twenty seven years. Approximately four thousand students. Usually the good students are the first you get to know and then the really bad students who are discipline problems. And the majority of the students are somewhere in the middle. In fact some students are never known.
The average teacher is so busy with lesson plans, getting the lesson across, exams, special events, and curriculum plus a ton of other stuff. Now add on looking for the student and their problems and usually they are overlooked. We look for bruises, broken arms, and looks of depression. But the odds are stacked against you. You can try to run it by a guidance counselor but they have over a hundred students to take care of and people fall through the crack.
In front of you could be a serial killer in infancy, a possible firecracker ready to explode, or a child who is thinking suicide and you are ill equipped to handle the situation.
And then there is the problem of when this problem arises. A child could be fine and then two months later on the edge. So it was with David P.
I had him in class in the seventh grade. Nothing seemed wrong. I even knew Dave’s father. He tied down mobile homes. His wife handled the phones for the business.
David started fires in open fields. A cry for help? He was picked up by the police. By now he was close to seventeen.
I passed David’s house a few days later and there were quite a few cars around. I did not stop. Went home and put on the television. David had committed suicide that day in a field.
He put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger.
The hints were the fires but maybe more. I did not see anything but he was in a class with thirty other students and did not stand out. Suicide at seventeen and the question is who let him down? I wonder if I should have seen something? It always bothers me even to this day.