The 2017 Counselors Symposium was what I needed, at that time, to push through with my chosen career. I am a school Guidance Counselor by profession, and I thought I was ready to face angsty teenagers right after I got my certification in 2017. But I was not emotionally prepared for what came to be the first month I was on duty. I met Melinda. She is sixteen years old, and she told me that she was pregnant. And that she did not want her baby.
As a school counselor, I am mandated by law to report if I believe, in my professional capacity, that someone might be in harm’s way. I did not see it during that time. I know that I have put sense in Melinda about her baby, and she even left my office with a smile. She told me that she was keeping the baby and that everything will be alright.
The father of the baby was a “gangbanger.” We all know how that is, and Melinda wanted nothing to do with him. That is what she told me. At first, she did say that she did not want a baby. She said that she was not ready. I did not force her on the issue, but I did talk to her about how she felt when she knew she was pregnant. I could see in her eyes that she was happy and that a tiny piece of her heart wanted to have the young one. I gathered that the gangbanging boyfriend did not want the baby and told her it is not up for discussion.
She mustered the courage to go to my office and tell me about it since she was conflicted. I told her that she must decide for herself since it is her life on the line and that I will be there to assist and support her as long as she needed my guidance. Melinda said that she would talk to her parents and then have the baby. I told her to tell me about the talk with her parents the next day as I will be waiting. As per obligation, I also told our school principal of the session I just had.
The next day was devastating. I learned that Melinda took her own life, but the reasons were unclear. It deeply depressed me, and I was out of work for a month because I blamed myself. Good thing, the symposium was already paid for, and I had to attend it. From there, I realized that as a counselor, I could only guide people to the best of my ability. But I cannot tell them what they have to do. I cannot blame myself for their actions.