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Ask Paul B: Guilt; Could Have Reached Out More for Youth

Mon September 26 2011 11:58 pm
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Dear Paul B Fans,

It is with very heavy heart that I share the story of a young man who I met and spoke with just a few years back. He was a local “kid” (even though he was 19, he projected a younger, less mature boy.) He had been living with some friends of mine for the summer.

He was their nephew, and had experienced some issues with his Dad and step-mom that were irreconcilable. Kyle was a very handsome kid, well built and tall, but not very approachable. Naturally, when I struck up a conversation with Kyle, he was not very talkative at all. I would like to think that statues would respond to me, because I often bring out the best in people. I am curious about people, because, what the heck, I already know tons about myself. He answered my questions with brevity, and rarely looked me in the eye. This was not how a 19-year-old should act, with his whole life ahead of him. He had drug problems and had left his Dad and Dad’s new wife to take a break from his troubled environment. He seemed to be thriving here in Chicagoland, especially without his druggie friends, “contacts,” and low-life peers that brought him down. I was told by his Uncle that he would be returning to a junior college in L.A. in a month. Kyle had refused any counseling, and his Dad had eventually cut him off, giving up on him, so to speak. His Dad was busy with his new wife, and her two children. Kyle’s Mom too had turned her back, because Kyle had stolen money from her to buy drugs, just once. I know that Kyle is no angel at this point, but he felt that his folks had given up on him. He was unfixable, broken without any hope of functioning ever again. I knew this kid was doomed and in trouble. I even wrote a letter to his Mom (who I had also met before she moved away) and she never responded to me. I had outlined what I feared were signs of depression, desperation, despair and little signs of promise or hope in this young boy. His Aunt and Uncle did their best to show him their love, but one summer was not quite enough.

Kyle took his own life in late August. I was floored when I heard it. I am still upset, angry and feeling guilty for not having done more. I had only 20 minutes with this youngster, and now he is gone forever. He was reaching out for a connection; one of caring, one of love. He never found that one person who demonstrated that to him. I now wish that I would have hugged him and told him that I cared. I remember just telling him “good luck son, I hope you find what you’re looking for.” I could have told him that I loved him, but that I feared he would consider it disingenuous. After all, I had just met him, and he seemed to be reaching out to someone, to anyone who would care. He needed professional help, and neither parent could or more importantly would take him in for counseling that may have saved his life.

Please, never give up on kids–they need you now, and forever. If you are a relative, a friend, or even a neighbor of someone who needs that reaffirmation of love, don’t hesitate. These days, we all need that.

Paul B.


ASK PAUL B! usually appears on Thursday evenings, but occasionally appears on other days or times so the article might be introduced to new readers.

Advice is offered for general discussion. Any advice from a columnist or someone who has never actually met you is not guaranteed to be fit for your particular situation. While the advice might help send you in the right direction to find a solution to your problem, missing information or lack of specific dialogue might cause you harm, or delay a solution to your problem. Never use this advice as the sole replacement for advice from a physician, psychologist or other health professional or other professional. The information provided through any post or Ask Paul B! post is not a substitute for health, legal and other professional advice where specific facts and circumstances warrant additional personal attention. If any reader requires legal advice, health advice or other professional assistance, each reader should always consult his or her own legal, health professional, or other professional advisors and discuss the facts and circumstances that specifically apply to the user. Consider the topics discussed as a part of your overall experience for your pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t hesitate to get help when you might need professional help.

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