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IMessage Saviors

By: Courtney Curtis

Four African-American teenage girls started a group chat that was originally intended to be about gossip and interesting situations they’d come across in their communities. However, it wound up leaving a more serious mark on each of its members.

As the members became more open to each other, the group chat slowly turned into a support group where they would talk about things that were happening throughout their daily lives. They often talked about a variety of topics ranging from friendship and relationship problems to very serious topics including suicide.

One day, Amaria Chandler*, the group’s founder, had a chilling message for her friends.

“Y ’all I don’t wanna live no more,” she texted. “I’m only telling y ’all because I love each one of y ‘all dearly. And I know that I don’t talk to y ‘all day to day, but this life s*** ain’t cut out for me.’”

She felt the need to tell the girls because although she didn’t care about life anymore, she did care about the people in it.

This wasn’t the first nor the last time it happened either.

“Earlier this month,” she says, “I went through a tough time where I thought overdosing was the way out of my struggling. I, of course, told the group, and Nyasia, one of the members, told me something I honestly had to think about. She said, ‘Oh my God, you don’t wanna kill yourself. You just wanna stop hurting.’”

Many traumatic events led to this toxic feeling. Dealing with the sight of domestic violence, two evictions, and being exposed to so much from an early age on social media led to the built-up frustration and sense of emptiness within she felt every day.

Four percent of women and 3 percent to a study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). the4 and African Americans are more likely to report major depression than the just over 3% of whites. However, the CDC also finds less than 8% received treatment compared to the nearly 14% of the overall population in 2011.

While some of that difference is related to a lack of insurance coverage, many other studies have found African Americans are less likely to seek treatment for mental health problems.

With the increase of depression and suicidal thoughts in the black community, it’s not surprising that three of the four girls have experienced depression, yet they had no intentions on telling anyone— not even their parents.

Ania Monroe, one of the consistent members of the group, has “been through it all,” she says.

Often subject to body shaming and stereotyping by those around her, Monroe came into the group chat with a mask of harmless deceit. She didn’t know that the other members had also hidden the same thoughts and feelings until one of them finally broke. She then opened up herself telling those within the group that she’s thought about suicide more than five times in her15 years.

Along with her suicidal thoughts Monroe has also came face to face with depression. She often looked at herself and felt like she wasn’t good enough compared to those around her. “I’m just so sad and the only thing i can do is cry,” she said.

The members were so concerned. Everyone tried their hardest to come to an understanding of why their beloved friend felt this way. She told them, “I’m looking around all and my friends happy, got a boo or someone on their line that they want and I’m just here, sad and depressed, with no one, which makes everything worse.” As the members were trying to help Ania, Amaria finally said what everyone else had meant to say.

She told her, “You do not have to depend on people for your happiness. You are beautifully made and just because you’re not on the same levels as your friends does not make you any less of an amazingly created female. You are a diamond in the ruff and it’s not always going to be easy but you’re going to reach a peak in your life where you’re going to be tired of being tired and crave happiness so much you’re going to find it in yourself. It’s different for everyone but you’ll find it.”

Many experts believe teens have been raised to have unrealistic expectations. This, along with the misleading messages from the media that suggest that teens, especially girls, should always feel good and have someone to make them feel good leads teenage girls to feel the way Monroe felt. It’s as if parents haven’t taught their kids the kind of coping skills they need to survive in chaotic times, when they can be easily manipulated.

But maybe this is what teens with depression need. A support group of some sort full of strangers who gradually become closer as time goes on. It seems to have worked with these four girls, who knows who it’ll help if more people speak up to get help within the community.

*This article uses pseudonyms to protect the privacy of the teenage girls quoted.

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