To the Teacher I Thought of When I Wanted to Hurt Myself in School


One day in fourth grade, we watched “Fantasia” in music class. It was one of those deals where the year was ending, and we were watching movies because all the tiring work of elementary school was over. We’d been watching for maybe 15 minutes when I got this overwhelming feeling of sadness and desperation.

I stood up and walked over to Ms. Bentler’s desk. I always thought she was so pretty: straight, blond hair, blue eyes and perfect height. She was everything I wanted to be but couldn’t. She looked up and smiled at me. I asked to go to the bathroom and she let me.

When I got out of the room, I didn’t go to the bathroom. Instead, I broke every rule in the book and went outside. It amazes me how a little girl that full of fear could be so fearless. I thought about going to the playground, climbing to the top of the slide and jumping off. I thought about running to the road and stepping in front of a car. I thought about going to hide in my spot under the librarian’s desk and never coming out.

For 20 minutes, I tossed these ideas around my brain. Then, I thought back to Ms. B., who I so looked up to. If I did any of these things, then I wouldn’t have gone back to her class. Ms. B. would have been disappointed in me, and to me, that was the worst thing that could ever happen.

I pictured her finding out I had jumped off the slide or had gone missing. I imagined her face when she realized she had let me go to the bathroom. It was too much for me, and I turned and went back inside. I was not going to let Ms. B. down.

Ms. B. was the teacher at the fourth and final cone, the red cone, at afternoon carpool. Every day, I would stand in the line of kids waiting to get in their cars, straining my eyes to find my mom’s car. Once I found it, I would count the number of cars in front of it and match them to cones. I only wanted to go to the red cone.

When I got so lucky, I would run over to her. I would get to spend about 30 seconds with Ms. B. It was usually the best part of my day. She’d ask how my day was, what I’d done, how my quiz was and how my drum lesson had gone the night before. Sometimes, she’d give me a hug. I felt like she cared about me. I thought if I went home and hurt myself, I wouldn’t get to see her the next day. So I kept myself safe so I could keep going to her class.

She was the first person outside of my family to tell me I had a good voice. When I didn’t think I was good enough at piano for instrument day, she told me my voice was the coolest instrument out there. When my fourth grade class voted me the most musical, I ran straight to her room to tell her. She was really happy for me, even though it was just a piece of paper and a decision made by a bunch of 8- and 9-year-olds.

When I wanted to learn to play violin so I could be just like her, she offered to teach me. When I decided to stop after a month, she still let me hang out in her room after school on Thursdays. She did so much for me, and I want to thank her for all of it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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