|National Average||MIT Undergraduate||MIT Undergraduate + Graduate|
|Group||Suicides per 100,000|
|American Indian and Alaska Natives||12.4|
|Asian and Pacific Islanders||5.8|
|Young adults ages 20-24||12.5|
|Males ages 20-24||> 21.4|
|Females ages 20-24||< 3.6|
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A letter to the future "leaders" of my school
I've wanted to write this for a long time but belonging to the class of people I do it has taken me a while. I apologize -- the letter has been badly needed. Some people do not realize it, or maybe they just choose to ignore it, like they do us.
I am a nobody. I was never given the attributes that a leader possesses. We "nobodies" are the nation's future "silent majority." We are the ones who carry the majority of votes, then sit back to be led.
Only sometimes, we don't sit back. We timidly raise our hand to volunteer for a committee, if we haven't already given up trying. Usually we are passed over in favor of a "leader" type, who has been tried and found true. If we are picked out of the faceless mass of nobodies sitting in our section, we're supposed to feel privileged . . . and generally we do.
When we show up at a meeting, the only one of our kind, we find ourselves slightly out of place, and very uncomfortable. Those who try to make us more at ease, more accepted, will forever have our gratitude.
Now I am a senior. I will probably never have much of an effect on people, but if just one future "leader" remembers this, I'll feel somewhat useful and very gratified.
Please take a little time to remember us nobodies. It is true that most of us will follow our leaders out of cowardly habit, but we will remember and have a certain amount of affection for those who took the time to treat us as human beings, not just as potential voters, or even admirers. Those who can't even spare a "thank you" when we compliment them on some achievement or even some article of apparel, will be forgotten as soon as possible. And those patronizing airs may bolster your ego, but they don't go very far with a nobody.
This may, to some, sound bitter or trivial. I mean it to be neither.
Those "leaders" who laugh or ignore this, well . . . I feel sorry for you. You don't even have sense enough to recognize yourselves. I remain as always . . . anonymous.
Does that sound like anyone you know? Are there people that you feel may need just a "hello" or a "thank you?" If there are, or if you know of any, you should get to them soon. The author of this letter committed suicide six days after completing it. The letter was his way of asking for help. But anonymous did not receive help. If you think someone needs help, or if you know someone that seems locked in his room all the time, help him. Invite him somewhere. Take him to a movie, ice cream, biking, anything. It is important to let him know that he is not alone.
MIT students are at an advantage. There are many different people of different cultures brought together here. Do you know the person sitting next to you? People thrive on companionship. I challenge you to find out. Learn who the people on your floor are. Build friendships that you can really enjoy and feel comfortable with. Again, I ask, who is the person sitting next to you? I am not convinced you really know.
You might say a name, and describe how tall he or she is, and the color of his or her eyes and hair. But none of these qualities are what a person is.
A person is invisible activities.
Who then is the person sitting next to you?
The person sitting next to you is suffering.
She is working away at problems. She has fears. She wonders how she is doing. Often she does not feel too good about how she is doing; and she finds that she can't respect or like herself. When she feels that way about herself, she has a hard time loving others. When she doesn't feel good about herself and finds it hard to love others, she suffers. . . .
That person sitting next to you is the greatest miracle and greatest mystery that you will ever meet. The person sitting next to you is sacred.[ref]
When he came to MIT three years ago, he typified, in every respect, the finest qualities of our American youth -- religious, a fine citizen, healthy in mind and body, the product of a loving and sharing family, gentle, friendly, helpful, courteous, compassionate, witty, and very nice-looking -- truly the all-American boy. He was a tireless worker and truly exemplified the work ethic that built our country.
Mark had a brilliant mind and an outstanding academic record. But he valued his play and leisure time as much as he dedicated himself to meeting the responsibilities of his "gifts." He loved music, sang, played piano and guitar, and appeared on stage every chance he could. As many have remembered him in recent days, he was truly "a gentleman and a scholar." He was the best our country could produce, and he was a part of the future hope of our country.
At MIT Mark was an officer and performer with the Musical Theatre Guild in his freshman and sophomore years. He played intramural sports. He tutored other undergraduates. During all summer vacations and inter-sessions Mark worked as a highly-regarded member of the Applied Research Area at Bell Communications Research in New Jersey. Academically, he worked tirelessly to maintain a 5.0 grade point average -- that is until the demands of the "system" became too great!
Unfortunately, Mark never thought in terms of personal limits; they just weren't part of his make-up. When teachers and TAs demanded twice as much effort and one more "pound of flesh," Mark, in total commitment and conscientiousness, just grumbled a bit (sometimes a lot) and simply produced what was expected. And when they increased their demands again and again (often with total disregard for human endurance or mental well-being), Mark would always produce, even when it meant total sleep deprivation for 48 hours or perhaps more...
Group projects were another factor in Mark's undoing. ... the most conscientious person in any group always ends up doing most of the work. What a curse! Mark complained of this every semester, and never more-so than this semester. When one member of a group strives to do only the best work possible while other members are satisfied with mediocrity, stress multiplies on the conscientious one. Mark sought ways to improve this imbalance -- even considering his "drop" option. But, in the end, Mark was no quitter; he couldn't do that to his partners...
In its quest to remain the premier institute in training and graduating the best-prepared and most-promising engineers and scientists in the world, MIT has become de-humanized. And by disregarding the limitations of the human mind and body, MIT has truly become a second-rate university. MIT, the "system," and society took our son, and victimized him. What a price to pay to maintain your world-class standing! How many more will follow Mark?
Ronald and Betty Kordos[ref, ref]