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November is Respect Life Month: Respect yourself, respect others, respect life

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In a society where too many teenagers are stressed, depressed, and possibly suicidal, Respect Life Month is essential in emphasizing the importance and potential of all human lives.

Respect Life Month is not so much about respecting yourself, as it is about respecting others and encouraging all to achieve their full potential.

Mrs. Juliano, a teacher in the Archbishop Ryan theology department, stated: “Every human life is a gift from God.”    

Many teenagers may not realize the impact they have on one another. When someone does something so tragic as to take his life, the lives of others are forever affected.

When Sean Boylan, a 2014 Ryan graduate and sophomore at West Chester, took his life on the morning of Aug. 7, the people of Archbishop Ryan were shaken. He reportedly jumped off the Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia and was confirmed dead around 4:30 P.M. when the Pennsylvania State Police retrieved his body from the Schuylkill River. More information can be found on the Daily Local News: http://www.dailylocal.com/article/DL/20160808/SPORTS/160809809.

Social media timelines were filled with posts mourning the suicide of the star defender on the football team. It was almost as if the parents, teachers, and students felt each other’s sadness and cried each other’s tears.

Mrs. McPeak felt deeply impacted by the death of Sean Boylan. She stated “My first thought upon hearing the news was denial. No way Sean is gone, this is a mistake. I was waiting for the call from Mr. McFadden saying Boylan was fine, but no such call came.”

Like most people dealing with death, McPeak went from denial, to anger.

“In the passing days, I grew angry at Sean. I could not comprehend how he could do this to his family and friends. I found myself yelling to him in my head ‘My God; Sean, you had it all: the brains, the brawn, the beauty. You are so loved. How could you be so selfish?’ Then, I grew angry with myself. While I have not seen Sean in a couple of years, I still ask myself if there is something I could have done differently to instill in Sean a sense that he was valued.”

McPeak presents a point most people also may ask themselves: “Is there something I could have done?” With a natural death, a death caused by disease, or a murder, you know either there is nothing you could have done, or you did everything you could have done. It presents the essential message of Respect Life Month that you cannot assume someone has a fairytale life. You can never pretend to know the challenges one faces, and you cannot pick whose feelings you will have consideration for.

Senior Kayla Smith said: “I was very sad to hear about Sean. You look at a happy kid like that and do not even think twice about what they might be going through. I think kids forget to realize that they aren’t alone. They do not realize how many people are affected when they commit suicide. It was an eyeopener for me because I realized that some of my other peers may be going through something similar.”

It is our duty as Catholics to be there for those who need us most. Since many depressed people put on the facade of being happy, we need to be aware of everyone’s “invisible bookbag.”

This idea of an invisible bookbag emphasizes that everyone has their own burdens, but different ways of expressing it.

McPeak ended by stating: “To those whom it may concern- Please know ‘this too shall pass.’ Today’s problems can be worked out, but it might take time. Ask for help. If you feel as if you do not know who to talk to, I give you my word, every adult in this building is willing to help.”

Respect Life Month reminds the members of the Archbishop Ryan student body how important the lives of their peers are. Hopefully, as a Catholic community, we can work together to ensure students know their importance and a tragic event like Sean Boylan’s suicide will never occur again.

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