November 18, 2013 In an essay entitled “A Brother is Murder,” Brent Staples wondered what he could have done to prevent his brother from going down the path that got him killed. Stables’ and his brother grew up in a poverty stricken city of southwest Philadelphia, where crime was an everyday norm. While Staples’ was able to escape to become a successful Journalist, his brother stayed behind, embracing the dangerous life he was accustomed to. Even though Staples’ was not there in time to help his brother escape the dangerous road he was headed down, there are steps people could do to revent someone they care about from heading down that path.
The first thing a person can do is talk with the person about the problem. Communication and honesty are key factors to helping someone make good decisions. For example, when I lived in Brooklyn I had a friend named Jon. Jon fell on some hard times at a young age and became very depressed. I knew he was hanging out with some other people who were IV drug users and I became worried about Jon making a bad decision. We had been friends for a long time and I was very concerned about his health and future. IV drugs coincide with a very dangerous life style. Not only are they illegal, but there are serious health consequences as well.
I approached Jon by telling him all the risks associated with IV drugs. I showed him some statistics I found on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website and I shared with him some experience I had working in the local emergency room. At first he did not believe what I was saying, but once I showed him the facts from the CDC and painted a verbal picture with my real world experience working in the Emergency Department, he began to reconsider the idea of using drugs. I told Jon the truth about what I saw and tried my est to present my ideas in a way that was understandable and relatable to him.
Too often people avoid talking about heavy issues such as this when their friends are in trouble, but I chose to cut right to the chase and be very direct with Jon. A second way to help people avoid the street is to provide them with alternative activities. Concerned friends should find out what their passion is and encourage them to pursue it. For instance, I encouraged Jon to pursue his passion in life, which was art and introduced him to friends of mine with similar interests, in the hopes of xpanding a supportive social circle.
His response was positive as he bonded and made new friends. The art and companionship distracted from the negativity of his former acquaintances, and he found himself spending increasingly less time being exposed to opportunities to make bad choices. Equally important, in combination with confronting the friend about the problem and providing alternatives for them, ensure the person knows they always have a friend to lean on when they are in need. It may require the person trying to help to move nearby, or have that friend move in or awhile.
In this case, I ensured Jon never telt alone or desperate enough to actually take the plunge and begin abusing drugs. Whenever he had a rough day or was questioning himself, I made myself available. We talked on the phone, visited frequently, and I moved nearby. I always worked to help him recognize that things are not as hopeless as they seem. I believe I played a huge part in preventing Jon from going down the wrong path. I stepped up and acted as the true and honest friend and confidant that he had previously been lacking in his life.
In short, riendships inspire a sense of responsibility to protect one another from harm. In Brent Staples’ story, Staples’ explains his guilt for not being there in time to stop his brother from going down the path he had. Staple’s tried to intervene but was too late, and he felt the guilt from that. Watching a friend or family member struggle in life is difficult. There comes a point when a one must arbitrate before a situation gets out of hand. Though we are not related by blood, Jon is like family to me. My action was out of love, and I am glad I became more involved in his life.