AFH Photo//Kat Morgan
The day Johnny Maxwell killed himself is a day I’ll never forget.
 I felt something was wrong from the moment I awoke. The tension in the air fogged my head and translated into every step. As I got up to face the day, my movements grew heavier. I got to school and sat down in class. The gnawing in my chest and the ringing in my ears were relentless. Something was wrong. I could feel it in every fiber of my being.
At 3:02 pm, I found out that a former classmate of mine committed suicide. He was a freshman in high school.
 That entire day, all of my social media was flooded: Snapchats with condolences, Instagrams of throwbacks and memories—the heartbreaking, prayer-filled Tweets. He was a student at Queen Creek High School, in a small town called Queen Creek, Arizona, where I lived for two years. He was a teenage boy who did not deserve this ending. 
Johnny was not the first Queen Creek student to end his life. According to Fox 10 Phoenix, five students at QCHS have committed suicide since May 2017.
 The Center of Disease Control and Prevention names suicide as the third leading cause of death in kids 10 to 14 and second leading cause of death in youths ages 15-24 in 2015. This is the result of a spike in teen suicides over the last 17 years. Rural areas have suffered a 40 percent increase in suicide since 1999, according to the American Council On Science and Health. Researchers have searched for what could possibly be the cause of these rates and they have discovered a variety of factors—from the opioid crisis to poverty due to the 2008 economic recession.
However, the suicide epidemic seems to have hit rural areas like Queen Creek particularly hard. According to NPR, small, rural towns in the United States have the highest rates for teen suicide in the country—and, from my own experience, I can understand why. When I lived in Queen Creek, there was a strong lack of diversity. Not many people fall outside the white, conservative, Mormon category. There isn’t anything wrong with being those things, but there is a great amount of isolation and stigma for people who do not fit into these boxes. Rural towns like mine tend to have passionate views, as well as overall ignominy for anything less than perfect mental health.
Anya Edwards, a freshman at Boston Arts Academy, used to live in a small town called Hoosick Falls in New York. She remembers that there wasn’t much to do, and  believes that living in a tiny town can be very depressing. “I think that a lot of the kids felt like there was nowhere to go, and they were going to be there their entire lives—stuck,” she said. 
Small towns have always been portrayed a certain way—whimsical, close-knit, behind the times, and shielded. There is some underlying truth to that. However, while popular TV shows like “Twin Peaks,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Gilmore Girls” depict this rural town lifestyle, they fail to ever discuss suicide.
 It’s like sex education. A Health and Human Service statistic report shows that areas that do not equip young people with safe sex practices tend to have higher rates of teen pregnancy. Similarly, if students are not equipped with mental health resources, we see the same results—pregnancy paralleling suicide. 
 “If schools started talking about suicide awareness at a younger age and offered students more support, the suicide rates would definitely start to drop," said Alex Hancock, a freshman at QCHS. Hancock didn’t get education on mental health until high school, but wishes it started in middle school. 
"My little sister started middle school as a sixth grader this year,” Hancock said.  “A couple weeks ago, she came home in tears because her friend, who is also in sixth grade, drank hand sanitizer during school in the hopes that it would kill her.”
 The bottom line is that teens in small towns are not supported in a way that prevents suicide. In Arizona, Project Connect Four is trying to change that by raising awareness and striving to help the teens there, after all the tragedy in the last year.
“We’re not the suicide experts. Nobody wants to be a suicide expert,” said Christina Nguyen, president of Project Connect 4. “But what we try to do is align ourselves with people who have that knowledge and information to come in and, for example, do workshops or assemblies.”
 Nguyen also said, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” And it’s true. We hear these messages of “you matter” and “suicide isn’t the answer” all the time. It can sound generic and fake, in one ear and out the other. But, they’re true. 
There are people fighting to make a change for all of us. Nguyen suggests that the best way for other small towns to start combating teen suicide is by finding people and groups that are also taking action, and sharing information with them. 
There are many resources taken for granted or ignored. And because of this, people like Johnny Maxwell, are gone. You never really understand all of the numbers and statistics until it happens to you.

If you or a friend is contemplating suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours every day.

*Maxwell’s name has been changed.

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AFH Photo//Vanessa Vo
Did you think that 2017 was a big year for feminism? Or that 2016 was surreal? Did you use the laugh-crying emoji a lot in 2015? Well, if so, dictionaries took note. Every year, multiple dictionaries and several English-language-based organizations name a word of the year. Check out this timeline for some of the most interesting words of the year since 1999.

The American Dialect Society names a word of the decade, century, and millenium. The word of the decade is web, just in time for the ten-year anniversary of the world-wide web. The word of the century is jazz. The word of the millennium is she, narrowly beating out science. “Before the year 1000, there was no she in English; just heo, which singular females had to share with plurals of all genders because it meant they as well,”  explained the American Dialect Society. “In the twelfth century, however, she appeared, and she has been with us ever since.”

The American Dialect Society names plutoed, meaning demoted or devalued, its word of the year. RIP to the former smallest planet in our solar system.
Merriam-Webster names bailout its word of the year after then-president Obama bailed out the banks responsible for the 2008 recession.
The American Dialect Society names occupy its word of the year. On September 17 that year, the Occupy Wall Street movement began to protest economic inequality.
The American Dialect Society names singular they its word of the year, both because of its use in the LGBTQ community and its increasing usage to refer to a person of unknown gender.
In a shocking move nobody expected, the Oxford English Dictionary names the laugh-crying emoji its word of the year, challenging the popular conception of what counts as a word.
Merriam Webster names surreal its word of the year. Lookups for the word spiked after Brexit and the 2016 American presidential election.
The Oxford English Dictionary names youthquake, meaning “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people” its word of the year after a five-fold increase in the word’s use over the year. The word spiked first after the UK general election. The word has become even more relevant since, as the #neveragain movement has been led almost exclusively by high school students. 
In the wake of the #metoo movement and the women's march, Merriam Webster names feminism its word of the year.

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AFH Photo//Esther Bobo
You step inside your house after a long day and tug at your headscarf, and toss it as far as you can see. You’re free! You walk into the bathroom and staring back at you is a wild tumbleweed sitting on top of your head. You ponder, “is this really my hair?!” If you find yourself in this situation, where you scare yourself silly after taking off your headscarf, I have a few pieces of advice for you.
Use Protective Hairstyles
Braids and other styles can keep your hair in healthy condition. Your hair will be lying on your head instead of in a huge lump. Plus, you won’t have to brush your hair constantly! You’ll save time getting ready for bed and get more sleep. It’s a win-win situation. 

Let Your Hair Breathe
Your headscarf is constantly compressing your hair to your scalp—let it run wild. Let your crowning glory take a breather, similar to marathoning Netflix on a Sunday, or going for a walk in the park. That way, your hair won’t be matted like a wet dog’s.

Don’t Postpone Detangling 
Leaving your hair a matted mess won’t do you any good. Yes, no one will actually see that mop of so-called hair, but this is still not advisable. Pick up that hairbrush and gently detangle your hair. The reward of running your fingers through your hair is worth the time it takes to brush out the knots. Your scalp will thank you!

Wash Your Headscarves Regularly
Oil, dirt, hair products and goodness knows what else are in your headscarf. And noticing that your headscarf smells funky halfway on your commute to school isn’t fun. Don’t leave your hair in a cry for help, and toss that headscarf in the wash.  Besides, it’ll smell pleasant in the not-so-nice smelling train station.

Don’t Wrap Too Tight
You need circulation to your scalp and head, so loosen up a bit. No circulation to the scalp will result in hair loss, and you might not want clumps of hair floating down to greet the floor. Also, it’ll help prevent migraines, dizziness and headaches that no one wants. 

If you follow these tips, your hair will look the models in the Pantene commercials. Remember, consistency is key—don’t fall off your hair routine. I wish you loads of luck on your hair journey! Treat your hair like the noble it is.

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Mohamoud Ahmed
I’ve seen many odd things in my 14 years of existence. But seeing a untethered goat roaming the streets and not one soul blinking? A truly bizarre sight.
 As an American-born Somali youngster, my life consisted of eating pasta with bananas   (are you even Somali if you haven’t had this?), running around in the woods, and tentatively tasting questionable berries in my hometown, Lewiston, Maine.
But when I was 9, my father bought the two of us plane tickets to Somalia and didn’t mention they were one-way tickets. As I wondered what Somalia would be like, I pictured mounds of sand swirling around like a Harry Potter movie, and goats blaa-ing everywhere.
When we arrived in the town of Ceelbuur, I saw animals I’ve never seen before kicking in the beige sands; the sight was exquisite. The shops on the main road were made of worn bricks and painted with pictures and calligraphy. Our house had a view of the starry night sky. I often found myself wondering if my sister was looking into the same sky back home, missing her partner in crime.
Life in Somalia wasn’t a smooth transition from the U.S. Most small villages and towns didn’t have a water system and relied on wells. I could no longer place my cup under a tap and expect cool, refreshing water. Getting water became even more difficult when drought season rolled around and water prices skyrocketed. I also encountered my first squat toilet in Somalia, and my beating heart was too much to handle the first few times I used it. What if it didn’t flush? What if I fell in and no one knew? Would I become the bathroom ghoul? 
I was soon enrolled into Arabic school. It was tough; I had terrible Arabic handwriting and I didn’t know a single word of Somali besides “mother” and “father.”  I wanted to tell stories of a small town with mounds of snow in the winter, and flowers that bloomed in a myriad of red, yellow and blue, but  every time I met someone new, I couldn’t say anything besides “hi” without feeling like I had cotton stuffed down my throat. I was the standout foreigner in my own motherland. 
Eventually, my father brought me to my aunt and her family in a city named Badhan. I felt like  my aunt’s 11 children, nieces and nephews were staring as if I were a classroom pet. I hadn’t interacted with any of them, and was often hiding in my father’s shadow.
But then, in the beginning of the new year, monsoon season came around. The rain droplets didn’t faze me, but my cousins lit up like children being given candy before bedtime. Rain poured. I stood in the doorway, watching my cousins frolic in the pouring rain, hesitant to join them. But then, my cousin lunged for my hand and tossed me playfully into the wheelbarrow, driving me into the rain. This gesture of familiarity made me giddy.
 Over the next few months, I realized my cousins were not as scary as I originally thought. They taught me how to speed jump rope, and in return I taught them inappropriate English words. I was one of them now, and I was content to have a set of friends to eat, laugh and play with. Although I was still looked at in an odd manner, it had simmered down, and I was treated the same as my peers.
A couple months following my 11th birthday, my mother wanted me to come home and continue middle school in the U.S. I felt torn. After two years in Somalia, I had learned this was a place I could call home, with my relatives always on the lookout for me. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, Somalia had wormed its way into my heart, and the familiarity of Somalia is one I still yearn for.
 I returned to the U.S. in May 2015. While my cousin was driving me home from the airport, I kept repeating “Is this America?” I spoke like this was a dreamland, filled with lush greenery and rough pavement. I had grown accustomed to flying, warm-toned sand and the swishing of willowy trees. Learning in Somalia was a unique experience, but I longed for the comfort of my mother's embrace and the foolishness with my siblings.
Most of all, I was happy to be reunited with my younger sister. She had grown so tall, taller than me. She bombarded me with questions, and I retold all the stories of my time in Somalia. With her, I knew I was home at last.

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On Saturday, March 24, I attended the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. I was amazed to see so many people in one place, hundreds of thousands of people all marching together in order to send a message about gun control in America. 
My parents have taken me to much smaller marches before—letting me hand out candy at the Muslim Ban Protest in Copley Square, for example—so this one was amazing to participate in. 
When my father and I arrived just before 10 am, I saw trees everywhere filled with young teens waving huge signs like elephants waving their trunks. As the day went on, more and more people poured into the huge square until I couldn’t see the stage anymore. The stage had two huge screens on it and a set of super tall speakers on each. It was plastered with huge blue-and-white “March for our Lives” posters.
I met Eugene and his 6-year-old son Logan at the march. Seeing Logan waving his home-made sign gave me hope that future generations will be more active in fighting for their rights. I asked Logan what he thought of the march; he said he loved it and that he liked fighting for kids’ rights, which was basically the cutest and most inspiring thing I’d seen all day.
I asked Eugene what he thought about militarizing schools for “safety” and he said that he thought it wrong to turn the loving learning environment into a warzone. I agree, because teachers are capable of making the same bad decisions as a school shooter. 
There were so many good signs, like one red and yellow sign that said “If guns and Trump are the answer then we’re askin’ the wrong question!” which made my day, knowing someone else had the same views I had on the president and his policies. 
If March For Our Lives showed me anything, it’s that kids these days are ready to help, ready to learn, ready to lead and ready to fight for their rights. Kids will rule, sooner or later. We will be the next presidents, doctors, politicians, kings, queens, senators and soldiers. This is the next generation, so let’s make this one count!

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