"Ask for help!!!" wrote little John Murray on Post-it notes. It's a simple message, but also an extraordinarily profound one when you realize whom it is intended for. The 7-year-old is trying to help suicidal soldiers.
His mission began after coming across a word on a military poster he did not know. Asking his mom Ingrid what it was, she reluctantly explained it was "suicide" and it meant "when someone ends their own life." So he went home determined to somehow help these veterans and active duty servicemen, who are killing themselves at a rate of 22 suicides per day (twice that of the civilian population). Inspiring? No question. It's bringing attention to an issue many people just don't want to face. If this child's concern impacted just one soldier, it is a major victory. But there is a bigger lesson in this boy's story for us parents.
“When they don’t have any broken arms or legs, and no blood, you can’t see the sadness inside them,” the boy explained. A letter from his mother about John landed on the desk of Army Surgeon General Patricia Horoho, who called his quest "a lesson for us all" and put the Post-it note story on the Army's website.
It is indeed an important lesson, but not just because we want and need our soldiers to ask for help. This shows how amazingly perceptive kids are. We often think they don’t really understand bigger issues or can't. John proves that couldn't be further from the truth. Of course we don't want children over-burdened with all of the world's ills, but if your child is curious and asking questions, perhaps it's okay to try to explain things in terms they can comprehend.
Even if it is not about a subject as serious as suicide, our kids should be encouraged to care. My son has recently become aware of homelessness. I have tried to explain how, sadly, some people lose their jobs and homes. He was especially struck by the fact that there are homeless kids too, so we then went through his things to pick out nice toys and clothes to donate. It's a small gesture, but an important one. John's story especially is certainly proof that you are never too young to make a difference.
Learn more about him here:
Do you encourage your kids to help others?
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside