Teen Writing Book To Alleviate Bullying, Depression

Nick Roels has little time to get into trouble. When the national honor society member isn't playing baseball or one of ten instruments, he's writing a book of stories. The stories are non-fictional accounts of individuals who have dealt with one or more of the myriad of challenges often faced by teens, including drug use, bullying, depression, and thoughts of suicide. Roels said he hopes the book will help others who are dealing with these kinds of things.

The Redmond High sophomore is only fifteen, but he believes his book is what many teens need. A particularly poignant conversation with his friend spurred Roels into action. After the two had become close, he told Roels he was "done with his life," and that "no one really cared." He warned Roels and their other friends that they had one more day with him. He was going to kill himself.

"It wasn't just a cry for attention," Roels said. "It was a cry for help." By sensing the amount of emotion in his voice, and seeing a fresh wound on his lip, Roels knew his friend was in need of help. "When you friends talk to you, like actually talk to you," he said, "you can tell when something is wrong." When his friend didn't show up to school the day he planned to take his life, Roels and two other friends wasted no time in contacting a school administrator. Roels's friend's mother was then notified. To their relief, his friend was still alive, safe at home.

The scare was one of several instances that spurred Roels into action.

Another friend of Roels's, who is known for his nice demeanor and getting good grades, lost his driving privileges after the police found weed in his car. "He got involved with the wrong crowd," Roels said.

When I asked Roels what he says to his friends when they start to lose their way, he said he "tells it like it is." For example, after his friend lost his car, he simply told him, "You're ruining your life." Roels said his friend saw the effects of his behavior, and changed it. On Thursday, he approached Roels with the idea of starting a club called Clean Teens, to help others the way Roels helped him.

"They know what they're doing is wrong," he said. "They just do it because of friends and because they can." Apparently, more than ten people have approached him, seeking his advice on how to avoid trouble.

"You have to make sure you're the support system," he said. "They need to know somebody out there cares."

I asked Nick how he manages to avoid getting into the kinds of trouble his peers are in. Without missing a beat, his mom interjected, "I'd kick his butt." She and her son laughed before he added, "Yeah, she'd kick my ass."

Nick's book should be ready for publication by mid-summer. The book has created a mix of emotion within Roels. He is excited about the project, but often has to remind himself to turn that energy into work. While he writes, he can't help but dread the inevitable editing process.

"I just want it to still be mine," he said. "It's my life, it's my friends' lives and it's other people's lives." He doesn't want any of it to be lost in someone else's edits.

Though the process is stressful, Roels is driven by the changes he's seen just by talking to those who needed a friend's advice.

The stories are important to Roels, because essentially, they are tools with which he can use to help people in the way he has helped his friends overcome suicide, and avoid drugs. "My friends are in this, and I want them in this." He said he was prepared to fight for his work if need be. He is confident that when it is done, it's going to be "a damn good book."

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