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The 24 Hour Counselor


I want to meet Jesus I no longer want to live I was raped on a date My friend may commit suicide I feel terribly lonely I hate how I look I may have an eating disorder I might stop drinking and drugs I might stop smoking I might join a gang I'm afraid I have AIDS I can't relate to my stepparent I can't relate to my single parent I get depressed often I'm thinking about killing people I'm tempted to go too far on a date I/My girlfriend may be pregnant I've been sexually abused Being adopted bothers me My parents drink too much My parents are divorcing Someone close to me has died I feel really guilty I'm failing at school My parents don't trust me

I'm thinking about killing some people - 24 Hour Counselor


by Tony Rankin
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My name is Troy and I'm 15 years old. Last week at school one of the guys I hang around with wanted to get together on the weekend to plan some fun. Then he started asking questions about certain teachers who taught several of our classes and wanted to know if there were any people at our school who got on my nerves. I told him that there were some teachers and students I didn't like, and we ended up making fun of them and talking about how stupid they are. We got together on the weekend, smoked, and talked crazy about some of the fun stuff we would like to do to people who are making us mad. We are wanting to make something big happen, even if some people have to get hurt or die. Tony: My name is Tony, and I'm glad you're here. I am a licensed counselor who spends a lot of time talking with teenagers about tough issues. I also write advice columns and articles for teenagers about some of the life hassles they go through. I want to listen to you and give some insight into what I hear from teenagers all the time. I believe that issues you raise and the fact that you may want to see something big happen indicates how serious this topic really is. I have had numerous discussions with students who have thought about hurting someone and even killing other people because of hatred, jealousy, and out of boredom. Many of the teenagers were confused about their feelings and thoughts. Some have been extremely serious about their plans. Some have asked questions like, "What happens if the plans go wrong and I get caught?" Some even have been kicked out of school for their threats. Troy, I'd like to talk with you more about what you've been involved with, what's going on in your head, and discuss some of the other things that might be going on that you want to talk about. Wanting to kill someone is serious. It's serious not just because you want to kill someone, but because of what's going on inside of you. I'm sure that you are mad at some people, have been hurt by others, been rejected by someone who really matters to you, and feel like you are at the end of your rope. Troy: It's always been that way. For as long as I can remember I've been mad at my parents and the rest of the world. It seems that I never get a fair shake and that I can't make anyone happy or get anything I want. The only person who matters right now or who seems to care about me is the friend I spent the weekend with. Tony: Tell me a little more about what you were talking about this weekend. Troy: Well, at first my friend started talking about how much fun it would be to make a scene during next Friday's pep rally. You know, maybe smoke bombs, firecrackers, or even shooting a handgun into the ball players' or cheerleader section. Since junior high school we never really liked some of those kids, because they always seem so good and smarter than us. My parents always wanted me to be like one of the guys in particular. He never did anything wrong and always made good grades. We used to play on the same baseball team. My friend and I started smoking, and he started talking about how serious he was about doing something big at school. At first I thought he was joking, but then he showed me some guns and other things that looked like smoke bombs. He also had some details drawn out. He told me he had been thinking about it since last year. Tony: Then you realized that he might really make this happen. And he wanted your help. Troy: Yeah, and for several days I thought about what kind of trouble I could get into. The more I hung around him, the more he started to convince me it was the right thing to do. Part of me said he was crazy; but the other part of me said I could finally take control and show people who was in charge. This was one thing I knew I could be good at. Tony: What kind of plans have you made? Troy: I've gone as far as to decide where we could sit, where we can get the weapons, how we can get away, and what kinds of lies we will have to tell to keep from getting caught. Tony: Troy, talking to me may have been the smartest thing you have done in a long time. The fact that we're talking indicates to me that you have serious questions about doing this. You must understand that killing others is more than just releasing anger, expressing frustration, or demonstrating resentment. Troy: What's all the fuss about these school shootings? Why are some adults freaking out about this? Every teenager is not killing somebody. Shootings don't happen at every school, and they don't even happen every day. Tony: Americans are being more anxious about who the next young killer is going to be. Nobody wants it to happen in their school, neighborhood, or church. Statistics tell us that the number of teenagers arrested for murder has tripled over the last 15 years. And most of them had adult accomplices, which means someone provided them with the weapon, helped them with the event, or gave them some ideas. Troy: The teachers at our school have gone overboard with all the recent shootings. Why do teenagers always get blamed for the bad stuff that happens at school? Tony: Troy, part of that is due to the fact that teachers have seen some major changes in students over the last 50 years. Teachers used to worry about students talking out of turn, making noise or chewing gum, running in the halls or cutting line, and violating the dress code. Now they see students struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, rape, assault, and pregnancy. They are feeling overwhelmed with all the changes and stories about youth crime. Teachers and parents are worried about your idle time, the books and magazines you read, the electronic games you play, meanness in what they hear teenagers say, and many of your friends who have no supervision. They also hear facts like, "13 children and youth are murdered each day"; "16 youth are killed each day with firearms"; and "the U.S. has the highest homicide rate between 15-24 years of age in the world." What do you think about their worries? Troy: Well, none of that ever happens where I live. I have to admit that I feel overwhelmed sometimes, too, with all the news reports. But aren't they going too far? I didn't write the books, make the movies, run the bars, sell the drugs, or create the video games. Sometimes I get stressed because of pressures my parents put on me. I can escape through drugs, occasionally with my girlfriend; but sometimes I just want to hurt someone. That's where I am now. Is that normal? Tony: It's perfectly normal to want to escape the hard things about being a teenager. Adults do the same types of things. Unfortunately, some of the escapes used today like drugs, alcohol, sex, stealing, or shooting people have deadly endings. Troy: What kind of punishment could somebody like me get for threatening or actually hurting or killing someone? Tony: As recently as a decade ago, teenagers generally suffered minimal consequences through the juvenile court system. They often would spend several nights in detention, be given some public service hours, and several months of probation. Then their charges would be dropped from their record once they turned 18. Today, teenagers are going to be treated like adults if they start making threats, plans, or acting out any of their schemes to hurt or kill somebody. Troy: What can happen if my teachers or principal finds out I've made threats or been involved with discussions about killing some of the weird people in my school? Tony: Once your school (or anybody for that matter) becomes aware of threats or talk of killing, they will report it to the police and you will be quickly charged with some type of assault offense.

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Troy: I don't know why I should take all the blame. I've gotten like this because of the way my parents are, and because my school does a sorry job of thinking that only the smart, popular people matter. Tony: It sounds like you are struggling between blaming and taking responsibility. Unfortunately, you are here and your parents aren't. But that doesn't free you from your responsibility to do what is right and find ways to relieve your pent-up hostilities. Sometimes teenagers who've wanted or even threatened to kill others have struggled with similar issues. Tell me if any of these sound like you. Some teenagers enjoy playing with or having excessive knowledge about weapons. They know how the weapons work, what kind of ammunition they use, how deadly they are at certain ranges, and how to obtain them. Sometimes the teenager has ignored the rage he is experiencing. He stays irritated much of the time, is constantly looking for ways to get back at people, loses his temper often, is vindictive, and defies adult authority almost all of the time. Many of these teenagers feel like they don't get enough attention. One of our basic needs is to get attention from people who like us or people we like. When we don't get it, we look for it in a variety of ways, like directing attention toward ourselves in ridiculous ways. Some guys feel that getting air time on national news or in the paper is great. That's why they develop their plans to hurt others. But the truth is, generally the teenager is dead when he gets the attention he wants, or he is in prison where he can't enjoy it. Troy: Well, I don't have all of those feelings, but I did feel like you were talking about me with some of them. I mean--rage and attention--that's me. I can feel myself getting tight in my chest, clinching my fists, gritting my teeth, and feeling hot in my face. I know that things make me mad easily, and that I feel I'm about to explode. I also like for people to know when I'm around. I want to feel that I'm important and have ideas that matter. Sometimes I become the comedian to get people to notice that I am here. Tony: It's good you can see those things in yourself, because you can fix those without having to hurt somebody. As far as the rage is concerned, look for ways to let it out that don't hurt people, things, or animals. When you feel rage coming on, try to decide whether you're tired, worried, involved with a bad relationship, or feeling the effects of unrealistic expectations. If you are, find some way to redirect your anger and verbalize it to someone who cares. As weird as it may sound, walk, run, sing, hit a pillow, call somebody, breathe deeply, or get away for a while. As you understand why you are angry, start to eliminate threats and physical force. Tony: Another thing I'm wondering about is whether your parents are overly controlling or permissive. Troy: What do you mean? Tony: Well, overly controlling parents tend to have rigid expectations, are overprotective, want you to act like a mature adult, and are demanding. Permissive parents allow their children to do as they want and set few boundaries. Troy: I fall into the controlling parents category. My parents never let up. Sometimes I wish they would have a car wreck and not survive. And then other times I wish they would just listen. I want them to accept me as I am. I get tired of them telling me every move to make. I hate how they take their stress out on me, and I wonder why my dad has to be gone all the time. Tony: Your parents have some things they need to learn about being better parents. Maybe someday they will catch on. But until then, try to find a man with whom you can spend some time talking--maybe an understanding school teacher or someone at a church. Earlier you said something about making fun of people who are different from you. You referred to them as being "wierd." Tell me more about what you mean by those comments. Troy: I admit that I hate people who are different from me, particularly those whose skin color is different and students who are popular, like athletes. I think certain people get more attention and favors because of who they are, and people like me never get any breaks. Another thing that really bothers me is how some people can always be happy and glad to be alive. It makes me so mad that I want them to see what it's like to be miserable. Tony: Let me see if I heard you right. Some people get special treatment because of who they are, and others bug you because they seem to be happy all the time. Troy: Yeah, that's right. Tony: I can understand how the unfairness bothers you. As far as the enthusiasm of some of the students in your school, know that they are probably going through some of the same feelings of rejection, hurt, fear, identity issues, and confusion that you are. They just hide behind the facade of happiness. Very few teenagers actually have it together perfectly. They may just hide it better. Try to look at them as similar to you and not as people who have no problems or hassles. Troy: The others at school make me feel like I'm different in a bad way because of the way I dress and talk. And deep down inside I tell myself that I don't matter and don't fit in. I feel unwanted and rejected and am just tired of feeling bad. I don't know where to turn; and, quite honestly, if I can't find a reason to live, I'm not sure I want anyone else to either. Tony: I can tell that you are hurting a lot. Sometimes the meanness we feel and project toward others is really self-directed. As I hear you talk about your feelings toward the future and even taking it out on others, ask yourself if hurting or even killing others is really an easier way to go on a suicide mission. You know, if I kill somebody or more than one somebody I can just turn the gun on me afterwards. Frequently the teenagers who have gunned down people in their schools or homes have had that as their ultimate goal. Are your plans more about that, or are they related to fascination with killing "things?" Troy: It's more about looking for a way to end all the unhappiness, and to make a statement that life is not all that great. Tony: I know that with some effort on your part and the help of someone you trust to talk with, you can find a better life out there. I have had times in my life that weren't great, and even had some of the same thoughts about not wanting to be around for any more of the bad stuff. But I'm glad that I stuck around to enjoy some of the more fun things in life like girlfriends (and now a wife), watching my boys play baseball and my daughter dance, eating good food, laughing with my friends, fishing, and playing golf. I'm glad that I can have fun just being me and not worry so much about what people think about me, or feeling the pressure to be a certain way, or having to make everybody else happy. I believe that your negative remarks toward other groups of people and your meanness are nothing more than ways to say, "I don't like who I am." That's realistic, and people can help you address those issues. But taking it out on somebody or a group of people isn't going to fix anything. Do you think you would feel good when you saw people running for cover, teenagers sobbing their eyes out, or dodging bullets?

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Troy: No. Tony: Troy, guys like you are everywhere--hurting and hiding from things they don't understand. When I hear you talk about plans to take your anger out on students or teachers, I want to make sure you don't have any regrets two hours, two days, two weeks, two months, or two years from now. We all have regrets of past actions that we must face. The only way we can keep that from getting worse is by not adding more terrible choices to them. This is important. Think about making some decisions that won't make the near future worse. Troy: As I sit here thinking about everything we've been saying together, I'm beginning to realize that I am disappointed with some broken promises from my parents like, "I'll throw baseball with you when I get finished reading the paper" and "I'll get that fixed today while you're at school." You've also got to know that my parents have usually handled their anger by yelling, screaming, and throwing things across the room. I promised myself I would never lose my temper like that. Tony: Seeing and living with violence makes it hard for teenagers like yourself not to do it. Witnessing excessive fighting in the home and seeing your parents lose their temper often can be disturbing. If your neighborhood has violence as well, your tendency is going to be more prone to the same type of behavior. By mentioning these concerns you are becoming aware of the need to deal with them. Don't turn out to be like your parents. Do something to be different. Break the cycle. Let me encourage you to do some things that will help immediately. If you have a gun, get rid of it. Having a gun at the house makes you eight times more likely to kill or be killed by someone in your family, and five times more likely to commit suicide. Give it to an adult who can help you. Give it to your parents. Contact your local police station and see if they have a Cash for Guns program and sell it to the authorities who run that plan. Get away from friends who may be encouraging you to do something crazy or that will get you in trouble. Any gang or person who is thinking about killing somebody has no future. You're not stuck, but you need to make a plan to get out. If you feel threatened by anyone because you do try to escape the craziness of this, immediately notify the police and your parents, and allow them to protect you. Notifying them about the plans that your friends have not only will save somebody's life, but will also help you with the healing process, assist you in getting your head screwed on right, and will help you to move on with finding a more meaningful life. Troy: That's going to be hard. Giving up my friends? Tony: Understand how important it is to get out of the circle of friends who influence you to harm other people. Staying with groups like this can also lead to substance abuse, poor grades at school, aggressive behaviors, serious injuries, suicide attempts, and physical or mental disabilities that will stay around after the violent event has occurred. It is reported that two million teenagers carry knives, guns, clubs, or razors. As many as 135,000 take them to school. Get away before you get hurt. Don't be the next face on the nightly news. Choosing not to change will affect the rest of your life in a very bad way. Troy: What can I do next? Tony: It is important to talk it out. You may not feel like yelling and screaming, but do tell someone about your resentment and anger. Find a caring adult you can trust. Tell this person about your fears. Ask God to give you a purpose to keep living. Ask Him to help you enjoy your life, and to find the fun that's out there for every teenager. Now, for the person reading this. Troy and I have a closing thought for you. Violence and truancy by teenagers have increased tremendously. Even the best of homes are being affected by these problems. The causes and cures for people wanting to kill others are unending. They're different for each individual. You, like many other teenagers, need more security, predictability, and accountability. You should take responsibility for your actions. Find a caring adult you can express your feelings with. A wonderful future can await you. Jesus Christ Himself is the ultimate solution to pain, disappointment, and even the urge to harm others. If you would like to meet Him, click on the link below, talk to a pastor or youth minister in your area, and begin to find the best life you can experience. I want to meet Jesus

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