Lacey McRoberts SpeaksUp

In April, Sabot at Stony Point organized Agents of Change:  Listening to Richmond’s Youth.  This community forum eatured young people sharing their views on topics that touch their lives: education, art, race, special needs, refugees, the LGBTQ community, and mental health.  The panel of adult community members included: Senator Jennifer McClellan, Delegate Jeff Bourne, and Deputy Secretary of Education Holly Coy. Lacey McRoberts, a sophomore at Maggie Walker Governor’s School, had the courage to SpeakUp for herself and those that suffer.  This is what she shared that night.

“Mostly, I’m just sad. It might just be my nature but really I’m only sad. I’m only empty. I’m understanding of what they did.  In November of last year, my best friend committed suicide. I had contemplated the idea many times myself, and had even been hospitalized. I knew she was going through depression, but the news was still a punch to the gut. My breath left my body and I was set adrift in my own world, a world where I was alone and had a void that no one around me fully understood.

A few months later, a classmate of mine also committed suicide. I didn't know him well, but I saw that same pain all around me. Everywhere was that same intense look, as if a piece of their heart had been removed, leaving no pain, but just a void. The day I found out about my classmate, I wrote this poem, it came from a place of raw emotion and I feel it says my feelings better than I could by myself.

People ask if I’m mad, mad at the two of them, or their family, or the whole world. I’m not.  I know all too well the sequence of thoughts that raced through their heads in the last moments of their life. I know… I’m only mad at one thing. I’m mad at this monster. This creature that takes and takes and takes and only dies when we do. This disease that’s ignored by the world, this thing that took away parents and children; it took away future valedictorians and future presidents, promising kids…and best friends. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t care how fortunate you are. It still attacks, it still kills, and people don’t blame it. I do. I know that depression stole my best friend from me, stole memories that were going to be made, it stole a future that was so bright, she couldn’t even see it herself. And I know that it took these from all of its victims and the people around them. All of these people have lives that they will never live, possibilities they will never explore, and loves they have lost the ability to experience. I’m mad at this creature because it has no right. All it does is cause pain. It isn’t fair! This world has enough killing, enough hurting, enough pain. It doesn’t have to take, but it does. These people deserve better, they deserve to live their lives. They should be here to laugh and cry and feel just like all the rest of us. But now they aren’t here at all. This creature removed all their feelings, everything except pain. It robbed them of a joyous life. Even if they had still been here, this monster would make it hell. No one should have to feel that way. No one should want their own life to end. No story deserves to be cut off. This isn’t right, it isn’t! This pain radiates to everyone for years. But I know the victims couldn’t help it. It’s not their fault, it’s not their fault, it’s not their fault, it’s not their fault. They were students. They were actors and actresses, artists, singers, mathematicians, the next president of NASA. That girl in the coffin was going to be on Broadway. That boy was going to walk on the moon. But now they can’t. It isn’t fair, it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair, it isn’t.”  - Lacey McRoberts

Katherine Cook