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At Risk Kids, Suicide and Robin #156

Article by Scott Tingley,January 03, 2007

I don't normally read this comic, which is obvious, since if I did I would be writing this weeks ago instead of now, with this issue likely tucked away behind newer issues of the same book and whatever else.

I worked with at-risk students for a few years, and everyday seemed to bring new situations where I had to scramble to come up with the right words to comfort, bring down, defuse, and settle a student. Some times I came up with the right words, sometimes I had a chair thrown at me (well, once….mostly I was threatened and sworn at).Sometimes I was a superhero and sometimes I was a chump. I usually try not to take a lot of life lessons from the comics I read (the regular superhero ones at least) but Robin #156 from DC Comics by writer Adam Beechen and artist Freddie E. Williams II, would have been a nice thing to read if I was still involved heavily with at risk kids.

This issue was nice, because it showed a superhero (Robin, of Batman and Robin fame) dealing with the extraordinary, but sadly, everyday occurrence of attempted suicide, and the words that were used were the words that I have often searched for. Well, not so much the words as the tone – the feeling. I never had to talk a kid down from suicide, but I often had to talk one down from committing an act of violence. Sometimes I hit the right note and the situation went well and sometimes I didn't and things escalated. Every time is different. What I really liked about the issue is that it was clearly shown that as well crafted as the words were, it is up to the listener to accept what you have to say and let your words help. Sometimes you can be Shakespeare and fail; and others you can stumble and stutter and succeed. It is as much that you show you are interested and care as much as the words.

The ending with the troubled young guy that was about to commit suicide seems a bit hokey to me. Too neatly wrapped up. But the beginning of that conversation quickly impressed me. I also liked the inclusion of the logo and phone number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( 1-800-273-TALK (8255)). It would have been nice if the Canadian “Kids Help Phone” had been included as well ( 1-800-668-6868 BTW).

There is a lot of stuff in the issue that you may not be able to follow, but if you just accept that Robin has gone through some really tough times lately (mainly the death of his best friend and having a fan get seriously injured while trying to imitate him) and that he is just a guy in a suit trying to do some good.

Ask at your local comic shop for this issue. Stores that carry the title may still have a copy, and most stores will try and order you a copy if you ask.

Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


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