Alexandra Hollingsworth knew immediately that she had made the worst mistake of her life.
“I just screamed for my mom,” Miss Hollingsworth remembers.
It was last November when Alexandra’s mother rushed into her daughter’s bedroom, and heard the then-Copperas Cove High School sophomore cry that she swallowed an overdose of Prozac, a common medication prescribed for depression.
“I was alone in my room, and I took 27 pills,” Alexandra explained. “I wanted to die – I thought I did, anyway – because I felt hopeless, just like a lot of (other) people say. You just feel hopeless – like nobody is behind you, and nobody has your back.
“As soon as I took those pills, I instantly regretted it. People who have survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco) have said that right after they jumped, they instantly regretted it. That’s what happened to me, right after I took all my pills.”
Hollingsworth was on hand last Saturday for a candlelight suicide prevention and awareness walk organized by Copperas Cove High School’s 123-member DECA chapter, part of a national organization designed to prepare “emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.”
Charlotte Heinze, a marketing teacher and DECA sponsor at Cove High, said such events are important to increase awareness of a growing problem that ranks as the third-leading cause of death – behind accidents and homicide – for young people age 15 to 24.
“We have a lot of young adults, teens, even kids who are 10, 11, 12, who are taking their lives, and I think this is an important message to put out – to tell them there are people out there who can help you. There are resources that can help you,” Heinze said. “We want to make this an annual event, so that people get to know more about this problem. We need to be able to recognize it, and help people when they need it.”
According to statistics, an average 3,470 kids in grades 9-12 attempt suicide each day across the United States. Boys are more likely to die in a suicide attempt, because they choose more lethal methods – firearms, hanging themselves, and jumping from great heights.
Girls are more likely to try cutting themselves, or overdosing on pills – like Hollingsworth.
Her parents rushed Alexandra to the emergency room, where she was forced to drink liquid charcoal, and eventually recovered from her overdose attempt. She then spent a week in a hospital psych ward, and began intensive counseling sessions.
Now, after finally finding a medication that works for her, the young woman’s future is bright, and she hopes to spread a message of hope for others.
“When you have something like I have (depression and anxiety), anything can trigger you, almost,” she explained during Saturday night’s event at Ogletree Gap park. “It’s very common, so it’s not something that shouldn’t be talked about. Suicide is terrible, and there should be more awareness out there.
“It’s been a personal struggle for me for many, many years. Seeing all these people come out to support people like me is very emotional. I’m in disbelief at how many people have come out.
“Obviously, suicide is not talked about enough. This walk really means everything to me, and so just seeing all these people come out is so wonderful. It really is a big deal. People need to realize that it’s not worth it, and you have so much to live for.
“I’m a very big Christian, and so I know that God put me on this planet for a reason. There is a purpose for me being here, so why am I going to do something to interfere with that?
“No matter what, think about the people who love you. All the people out there who care about you. Just think about all the things you can do in life.
“I tell myself all the time – in 30 years, is this (problem) going to matter? In three years? In a week?”