DR. WALLACE: My best friend has been telling me lately that she wants to commit suicide because she is having a lot of parent problems and her boyfriend has dumped her for another girl. I really don't think she's serious, but just in case she is, I want to know how to help her. All she ever says anymore is that she feels like a failure and that the entire world is against her. — Anonymous, St. Louis
ANONYMOUS: First of all, let your friend know that you care for her very much and that you will do everything possible to help her. Then help her choose adults she can trust to help her immediately. Do not wait one day to get her help. A teacher, counselor, nurse or administrator would be an ideal place to start.
It is always important to take a suicide threat seriously. Too often, because of fear or uneasiness, a friend will laugh off a plea like this one. According to the California Suicide Prevention and Crisis Centers, you should ask your friend if she has a plan on how she would commit suicide. Asking that question shows you are willing to take your friends threat seriously and are not afraid of discussing anything she might be feeling. If the answer is yes, this indicates imminent danger and the need for immediate professional help.
Your friend confided in you that she might commit suicide. That's likely because she wants help but just doesn't know how to ask for it any other way. Even if your friend says she doesn't want any help and becomes angry when you talk about getting assistance, continue to direct her to getting the necessary help. It's much better to have an angry friend that's alive than one who is dead because you didn't want to anger her. If she becomes angry with you, make this comment to her. Also, be sure to give her the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. Tell her you will make the call together with her, if she's open to it. Treat this matter with the utmost urgency.
IT'S A SOBERING PICTURE
DR. WALLACE: In the past eight months, three teens I know have been killed and four have been more seriously injured in automobile accidents. In all of the accidents, alcohol was a prime factor.
Teens, I understand that kids like to have a good time on the weekends but drinking and driving is not a way to celebrate. If you drive when drinking, you are not only putting the lives of those in your car in jeopardy, you are also putting in jeopardy everyone else riding on that street or highway.
Parents, please make sure you know where your teens are at all times, who they are with and what they are doing. If you are a wise parent, it might save you a midnight call from the state trooper. You know the one I'm talking about. "Is this the mother of Jenny Doe? I'm sorry to inform you that she has been in an automobile accident and...." — Anonymous, Houston
ANONYMOUS: You present a very sobering picture. Wise teens and adults will heed your advice. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and views.
I'M A GOOD ATHLETE
DR. WALLACE: Several months ago, you stated in your column that boys and girls are not physically equal in sports because "males are generally bigger, stronger, faster, can jump further and higher, and that is what athletics are all about." Therefore, you believe that girls should not play on boys' sports teams.
I can run faster, jump higher and throw a ball farther than most boys. Why should I be denied the opportunity to compete with the best just because I wear a skirt? — Tammy, Tucson, Arizona
TAMMY: The only reason why I feel that females should not play on boys' athletic teams is that it would potentially open the door to allow boys to play on girl's teams. If this happened, it would be the beginning of the end for many female athletes who want to participate in high school athletics.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.