Adolescents possess the emotional capacity to experience depression. Author Pamela Samuels Young uncovers the emotional trials of younger age groups in the critical field of child suicide and bullying in the Black community. Her recent novel, “Failure to protect” deciphers the thoughts of a nine-year-old girl searching for an escape from a school bully and the darkness that fell over her home. The main character Bailey goes through the shallow trenches of her mental abyss. Cyber Bullying inevitably follows her outside the schoolyard; and then she is greeted by a dark cloud that weighs heavily over her home life.
Bailey desperately seeks emotional relief from any elder that will listen. Like a frail raft in a storm she gets tossed around and drowns in “adult advice” to her problems; leading to unresolved turmoil in her mind. Attorney and author, Pamela Samuels Young unearths various aspects of mental health; adding emphasis on developing children in the African American community. Through extensive research and the power of storytelling, she encapsulates the unyielding action that needs to take immediate effect for restoration of child mental stability.
Pamela reflected carefully on the moment child suicide became a scandent vine of sorrow in her mind. Conversing with a dear friend over the joyous holidays, Pamela noticed the energy of the conversation was unusually sullen. That is when she was informed two little girls had taken their own lives. Like a protruding thorn, the ages of Madison Whitsett (age 9) and Mckenzie Adams (age 9) pierced through Pamela’s heart. Blurring thoughts of children as young as 9-years-old, committing suicide felt like a taboo or otherworldly. That night, Pamela mourned the lives of those two little girls.
The next few days were spent properly studying this national crisis. Pamela did an exponential amount of research, being an attorney meant finding the root cause of the ordeal and taking action. A significant pattern began to take form as Pamela dug deeper into a variety of media platforms that measured the social epidemic. Children between ages 5-12, that were Black, were committing suicide at a more excessive rate than other children in the same age group. Pamela began to predict before completing her readings that the younger the age of the child, the more likely the child was Black.
Lamentably, the fatal forecast she assumed was accurate. On a hunt for the antidote, Pamela read books like, “Why People Die by Suicide” by Thomas Joiner and “Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories” edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones. She spoke to anyone available to recount personal experiences. Her key findings projected copious streams of clarity behind the deliberate act of child suicide; it goes far beyond just bullying. Teasing is typically only a drop in the bucket compared to what a vulnerable child may be intentionally hiding in other parts of their lives.
Pamela took her research and liberally applied to her most recent novel “Failure to Protect” we peer into life through Baileys’ eyes. We witnessed how her mother’s sadness weighed on the 9-year-old shoulders. Bailey walked us through her thoughts as she tried being happy in front of her mom and kept everything that was happening at school hidden, Bailey states at one point,“ She hasn’t noticed, my smile is faker than hers.” We were with Bailey listening to her mom cry herself to sleep. Even when Bailey opened up about her issues at school, she was told by the adults in her life to “toughen up” or “ignore” bullies. Pamela made use of real scenarios to paint a picture of frequent mistakes that are taking place in real time. The “sticks and stones” mantra is archaic when the digital world provides around the clock harassment.
Bailey represents the voice of any youth in trouble. Her voice imagined to be small carried emotions that were ten times her size. This book was created to trigger more of us to take action; it calls upon the collective support of the community to pay attention to the cries of the youth. Although it’s not an easy topic to discuss, “Failure to Protect” is the book that is looking to a pivotal movement towards our youth looking up for sovereignty over their mental health.