What Were You Thinking: Inside The Adolescent Brain is a new Audible Original series in which host Dina Temple-Raston shares the stories of adolescents who made astonishing choices — from joining ISIS to planning a school shooting — that led to disastrous results. To help understand what they were thinking, she talks with their friends, their family, and the teens themselves. Chloe Love, a senior in high school this year, is one of the teens she features. Chloe saw the teen-suicide rate in her Colorado county double in recent years and learned personally how suicide can feel “contagious.” This is Chloe’s story.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there’s help available.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK. There's also a live-chat option on its website.
If you are local to Colorado, you can talk to counselors at Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255, or at Pike’s Peak Suicide Prevention Center on its website, or by calling 719-573-7447.
It was a normal day in seventh grade, and my friends and I were in class. One of them showed us cuts on her arm; she told us she did them herself. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cuts for the rest of that class, and by the end, I realized I had multiple marks on my arm from digging my fingernails into my skin. It was completely mindless.
A week went by, and I dragged my first blade across my wrist. They were scissors, so they didn’t cut deep, but to me it meant that my mental frustration had become something physical. Self-harm helped me cope with my bottled-up emotions. Sweaters and bracelets became my new friends. This went on for about six months until all my friends knew. One day, one of them told.
I got the pass to the counselor’s office, and I was shaking as I walked down there. She asked me if I wanted her to call my mom and have her come in. I started to cry because I realized that I did want my mom to come; I did want help. My mom walked in, her face full of worry and mortification and sadness. The counselor gave me ideas on how to cope with stress, anxiety, and loneliness. My mom and I developed a code word, so if I ever really needed to talk to her, I could just say “code pink” and she’d drop everything. Things seemed like they were back to normal.
But when freshman year began, a huge fight went down between two of my friends in our group. And when someone told a lie to one of the friends saying I had called her a rude name, all my friends turned on me. I had never felt more alone in my entire life because I had no one to talk to. Added to that, I didn’t make the cut in auditions to be in my high-school show, and I couldn’t do the thing I loved most: theater. I hated myself and believed everything was my fault.
It was the middle of my freshman year when I first began thinking of suicide. Even though I hadn’t known anyone personally who had died by suicide, I was reminded of a friend of a friend who had killed himself in 2013. My friends and I would vent to each other about how hard life is and how sometimes we just wanted to leave.
Then Mackenzie came along. She was new to our school. I remember having our first sleepover together and staying up late watching Glee and eating ice cream. We spilled our hearts out to each other that night. She told me about always being the new girl and wanting to fit in somewhere, and I told her about feeling like I don’t belong in the group and feeling isolated. But she never talked of suicide, or of feeling the way I felt. I felt like I finally had someone on my side who I didn’t have to be afraid to talk to.