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Best Friend's Suicide (COMMON APP ESSAY PROMPT #1)

emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #1
ok so this essay is for LMU's undergrad dept. It's my personal essay/statement and I would like any open advice/edits/opinions! the prompt is as follows:

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Emmeline Wang
Prompt #1

On October 14th, 2008, suicide claimed my cousin Jocelyn's life. At only the age of fifteen, this event never seemed like it was meant to be. From that day on, my life seemed harder than I could have ever imagined.

Ever since our childhood, Jocelyn had been my best friend. Only being one year apart from each other, I saw her as a mentor, not just my cousin. She was the first person to find out anything and everything about me. Talking to her was like talking to God; free of judgment, supportive, and loving. In the summertime, she used to sleep over for weeks at a time and we would do ride our bikes, play video games, and simply talk about the people we liked at school.

Jocelyn was a brilliant girl. In fact, she knew how to solve other peoples' problems while simultaneously writing novels, sketching breath-taking pictures, and reading intellectually challenging books. The line she always used to help me go on and constantly fight in life was, "No matter the circumstances, you have two options: to give up or keep going." Even though Jocelyn loved to help others with their issues, she never liked to vocalize her own. Being her closest cousin, I started to see her gradually slide into depression. At only the age of ten, her problems started to manifest from her parent's divorce. She always blamed that situation upon herself and never realized that it wasn't her fault. By high school, Jocelyn became more secretive with her issues and never told anyone about her troubles. Even therapists that worked to help her out didn't see that she was chronically depressed. Finally, she could no longer handle the pain of continuing life and that was when she decided to cut her life short.

Crying on the inside and out, I couldn't fathom the reason for Jocelyn's decision to leave. Still remembering the very last conversation I had with her, I cried and cried wishing that I could tell her one last thing before she left: "I love you Jocelyn and I wish I could see you one last time," instead of telling her what my costume was going to be for Halloween. Waking up the next morning, I contemplated how and why my cousin would commit to such a thing. The quote of "having two options" stuck in my head because I never thought Jocelyn would give up. An array of ideas were running through my head, but I knew one thing for sure; my cousin was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. Everything in my life seemed dark and my stomach constantly churned from picturing her suicide. My friends at school kept questioning me, "Emmeline, what's wrong?" Right when that question was asked, the waterworks began and I ran into the bathroom, blocking everything and everyone out. During that time, my self esteem dramatically lowered and I felt vulnerable to any type of human contact.

I really did not care about anything anymore. The loss of a best friend just seemed too unreal. There was no one else I could talk to about anything anymore. I hated talking to people simply because it wasn't the same as talking to my cousin. From that point on, I went from being a comical and enthusiastic girl to a sad and lonely one. I felt betrayed and left behind by my cousin because I could never understand why she would do such a thing to me. I had a right to be mad but at the same time, I was being rude and selfish because I knew she was suffering inside. "If I knew she was suffering and had the chance to help her, would that make a difference at all?" This question lingered in my head and gave me the biggest heartache I have ever had in my years of living. It was just one of those things where I did not know to be angry, sad, or depressed. It was just a huge clump of negative emotions that tore me up. Living with all these emotions pent up inside me, there were points in my life where I would just sit and cry in confusion and hysteria. Everyone lives with regrets in their lives, but the regret I had to live with was something I could never get over. Vividly recalling my conversation with her before she left made me feel like I did not really have the chance to tell her how I truly felt.

If I ever had the chance to see Jocelyn again, I would embrace her with all the love a person can possibly give. Often times when I go to events like school dances or simple things like a walk in the park, I always think of Jocelyn and how I could have taken her out to all those places with me. As a senior in high school, I still cry from time to time, pondering about graduation and how my cousin won't be there to share laughs and memories with me as I would with her a year later. Since Jocelyn's death, I have been sharing her story with many depressed individuals and how they would affect their loved ones if they suddenly decided to leave. With a story like this, the only positive effect I can get from it is that Jocelyn has saved many innocent lives that were not supposed to leave yet. All I could do is finally let go and see it as one life sacrificed to save many others.

Even though I sometimes still hang on to the regrets of not seeing things through, I have to think that Jocelyn is resting peacefully now and there is nothing I can do to bring her back. She has truly inspired me in many different ways. In fact, her passing motivated me to start talking to individuals that need someone to talk to when they are at their all time low. I have been going to retirement homes talking to the elderly and I am currently working on being a volunteer for a crisis hotline. If I have this much remorse, I figured that I must not wait any longer and fix that with other people so they do not end up doing the same thing.

After Jocelyn passed away, I learned to appreciate life and how I have the opportunity to help others with their problems like she did. Even though her life was robbed by suicide, I feel that I have to continue my life and save others because they do not deserve to have the same terrible predicament as my cousin. Although my cousin never tried to reach out to others for help, I feel that I have to reach out to the suffering by offering as much service as I possibly can. I know my cousin would say, "Emmeline, I am proud of you for continuing in life and never giving up on yourself despite the circumstances," if she was still alive. I will never forget Jocelyn's constant struggle while she was alive, making her my best friend forever and an irreplaceable presence.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 26, 2009   #2
The event you have chosen to write about is powerful and moving. Your reflection on how that event affected, you, though, is less so. If you were writing on a different prompt, such as the optional one in which you explain things like a sudden dip in your grades, it might not seem this way. But, as it is, you are supposed to be writing about the importance of the experience itself on how it shaped you, and instead of reflecting on the deep emotional issues involved, you take the opportunity to state your G.P.A. and list your extra-curricular activities, neither of which you should be doing in your essays anyway, as you presumably have already done this elsewhere on your application. You might be better off taking out that material and replacing it with a more detailed description of Jocelyn, on a thoughtful reflection on how coping with her suicide affected you as a person, rather than as a student.
OP emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #3
so like if i included as a person and as a student would that be okay? because definitely that year as a student should be something to be talked about simply because of the constant fighting i had to go through in the classroom. idk lol i went through drafts and drafts and it still seems so intangible as to what should be included and whatnot because there is so much to talk about. >_<
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 26, 2009   #4
On October 14th, 2008, suicide had claimed my cousin's life.

From that day on, my Junior year seemed harder than I could have ever imagined.

You start off by introducing the notion that the most important aspect of your best friend's suicide, from your point of view, is how it affected you academically. This does not say good things about you. Worse, all the things you describe in the second half of your essay are not convincingly tied back to Joceyln, because they are just ordinary things most intelligent students with concerned parents end up doing in order to prepare for university. That is, you are almost certainly the sort of person with the sort of background who would have ended up with a decent G.P.A. and list of extra-curriculars even if Jocelyn were still alive, or had never existed at all. If you want to write a separate essay explaining the dip in your G.P.A as a result of having to cope with Jocelyn's death, that's fine. But if you are going to write on the prompt you gave on this thread, then you need to talk more about how the experience really affected you.
OP emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #5
yes but just wondering, if i truly expressed my emotion into it how would i do so because i mean b/c of this incident, there were times where i didnt want to stay on earth but i mean is that something i should write about? i think i took the whole school thing too much because my teacher said to mention the dip in grades but i made it so that it literally revolved around just that.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 26, 2009   #6
You should write about the feelings and thoughts the experience provoked, editing out those that might give a negative impression of you. I can't be more specific than that, because I don't know exactly how you felt or what you thought. Many people who have friends who commit suicide struggle with feelings of guilt (how could I not have known?), self-doubt (could I have done something to stop it?), anger (how dare they do this to me?). Hopefully, they eventually move past this, realizing the answers are "no," "no," and "it wasn't about me," and begin to reflect on the matter less personally. So, how can someone choose to die, especially when there is nothing physically wrong with them? Is this activity peculiar to humans? If so, what does it say about us? And so on. As I said, I don't know how you felt or what you thought, which is in a sense the whole problem, because after reading an essay by you on this topic, I really probably should know exactly that.
OP emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #7
ok definitely! thanks so much! will you still be up because I'm currently do a full edit on it right now
christine9944 3 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #8
your evaluation of this experience was very thoughtfully done
good job!
OP emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 26, 2009   #9
any more feedback?! my essay is due in 5 days and i need more!!!!
jnbadj 1 / 3  
Oct 26, 2009   #10
I thought your essay was very well written.
The only thing that I would change would be:
I know my cousin would say, "Emmeline, I am proud of you for continuing in life and never giving up on yourself despite the circumstances" if she was still here.

"I will never forget Jocelyn for her constant struggle here and she will never be replaced by any other person."
I found 'here' to be a little iffy, and it made your last sentence weaker than it should be.
My suggestion: I will never forget Jocelyn's constant struggle during her life, making her irreplaceable in my eyes.
Or something to that extent, I don't think mine is the best either, probably because I'm sleepy right now. But you get the idea.
OP emmelinew 2 / 8  
Oct 27, 2009   #11
hey! thanks! haha wouldn't have caught that -__- i need more suggestions from people!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 27, 2009   #12
Much better. You seem much more thoughtful and compassionate in your latest version. When you say

I feel that I have to continue my life and save others

does this mean you volunteer at hotline or clinic or something along those lines? If so, this would be the place to mention it.

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