So I've been an actual high school teacher for exactly two weeks now. I teach English. I run the yearbook committee. I try to do more.

Being a teacher means I get a whole slew of jobs thrown at me at once, with little regard to my sanity. Advisor. Guardian. Friend.

Today I realized just how much I really do matter to my students. A "former" student (he dropped out just before school started) decided to commit suicide on Friday. Not many students knew him, as he wasn't the most popular of people, apparently. The poor guy lost his girlfriend, his job, his computer and his pet dog all in the span of about three days. It was too much, and he hung himself.

This affected my section of the student population as you would expect it to for an "essentials English" class; most students anticipated a day off. When they didn't receive that luxury, they became hostile. "Why not? It's not fair!" was their rallying cry.

But one student sat quietly in my first period class all week so far. A student who isn't normally quiet. He watched as the other students feigned grief, and pouted and whined because they were in class all this week so far instead of at home "getting in touch with their emotions" like other school get to do. I explained that life, along with being sacred and beautiful, must go on; I suggested that they visit the school's Student Services if they needed counselling, and taught my lessons (with one eye on that particular student). The other students sneered, gave up their attempts at getting to spend the day at the mall, and began on task.

At the end of class today, I held him back. Last week he was always the first one out of the room, but this week he was tending to be the last. I looked him in the eye. He remained stone faced.

All I asked him was if he was okay. I quickly found out he wasn't.

It seems that he was considering suicide himself, even before Friday. After seeing a schoolmate do the deed, he was watching to see the reactions of his classmates for a sign of what he could expect his friends to do.

He was disgusted with their reaction, but it had driven him closer to his goal. He now knew that if this student wasn't missed, he wouldn't be either, and that depressed him even more.

But my very act of asking him if he was "okay" was enough. He broke down. I took him to another room, sat down with him for my entire lunch/break, and then again during my spare/break. I let him know he was special. That I noticed. That I'd miss him. He says I saved his life, or at least he hopes I did. So do I.

So I've been an actual high school teacher for exactly two weeks now. I teach English. I run the yearbook committee. I try to do more.

Oh, and I've avoided CNN and the CBC for an entire day so far. I haven't read zmag or the Drudge Report. I've had enough on my plate today without having to deal with terrorism, jingoism, sabre rattling and Dubya's dumb monkey look. I think I deserve the reprieve, to be honest.