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Roger is depressed.

Limping down the high school halls, he feels invisible to his fellow students. “The only time they notice me,” Roger writes on his web page at night, “is when they make fun of the way I walk.”

He has very few friends and none he would call a best friend. He had a best friend once, in grade school, a buddy who rode bikes with him all over the neighborhood. One day while they were standing in the street, a car sped toward them. He pushed his buddy to safety but the car hit Roger in the leg. He would forever walk with a limp.

The two friends went to high school together but they drifted apart freshman year. Roger tried to make new friends at a teen group at church, but it didn’t work out. Nobody has time for him, nobody notices him.

The next day Roger carries a gun into school and stands again in the crowded hallway. He raises the gun and fires three shots into the ceiling. Now he has their attention. Resigned to his fate, he raises the gun to his jaw and takes his own life.

Amy is scared.

Fear is a rare feeling for her because she usually has everything together. A beautiful blonde cheerleader, she has tons of friends and dates the star basketball player.

She would do anything for him. If he’s going across the country to college, then she wants to go too. If he wants to go to the gang’s Friday night drinking parties, then she is right there with him. They are champions of the beer pong table.

During one wild party, they sneak upstairs and jump into bed together. Six weeks later, the positive pregnancy test changes everything. Now she’s afraid about her future and doesn’t know where to turn. She’s even afraid to talk to her mother. Resigned to her fate, she drives to the abortion clinic to take a life.

Jonny is lonely.

He usually spends his lunch hour sitting by himself, doodling in his notebook. He is so shy that it’s hard to start a conversation, especially with someone he doesn’t know. Besides, no one will understand him. People will just see the knife wounds on his wrist and think he’s psycho. Will life get any better?

His first attempt at suicide failed when his mother got home early from work. But ever since Roger did it, he’s thinking about it again.

One day at school, the cops show up and accuse him of phoning in a bomb threat. They look at his long hair and dark clothes. They freak when they see his doodles – airplanes dropping bombs on buildings and people. As they take him away in the squad car, Jonny slips deeper and deeper into despair. Resigned to his fate, he opens a bottle of pills and prepares to take his own life.

Jake is confused.

He used to think his life was perfect. The star of his basketball team, he has a scholarship to play for his favorite college team. He dates the prettiest cheerleader and is the king of the Friday night parties. Life couldn’t get any better.

That all changed when Roger killed himself. Why did they stop being friends? Could he have stopped Roger if they still hung out together? He has a ton of unanswered questions. Will someone listen?

Things get worse when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant and his parents are considering a divorce. What do I do now? Will someone help me?

Jake, however, is not resigned to his fate.

He reaches out to the youth group minister at church, who seems pretty cool. Jake starts to recognize the emptiness in his life. Partying with friends, laughing at other people, caring only about himself – these are just shallow, self-indulgent acts. They may feel good at the moment, but they eventually separate and isolate him from others in school, from the surrounding community, from the Body of Christ.

As he grows more confident in his convictions, Jake reaches out to others. He visits Roger’s mother and they talk about fond memories. He meets new friends at school and invites them to sit together at lunch. He befriends Jonny and offers him a connection to other friends. He rushes to the clinic and convinces Amy that adoption is a better solution to abortion.

Sure, he has to postpone his college plans for a year, but it doesn’t ruin his life. In fact, it makes him stronger and more appreciative of his choices and the life he has made for himself.

The new film “To Save a Life” opens in theaters this weekend with great interest among teens and high school teachers across the country.

“One of the many things I love about the movie is how it portrays in a very real, non-cheesy way the different pressures teenagers face. It opens doors for students to talk with trusted leaders on where they see themselves in the story,” says Doug Fields, founder of Simply Youth Ministry and author of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry.

See this film with a friend and recommend it to your classmates. Reach out, connect and share God’s love with others. You just may save a life.

CF
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First published in the January 22, 2010 issue of The Tennessee Register. © 2010 Christopher Fenoglio

Read more, find tickets, rock the music, get the gear, express yourself and do more at www.tosavealifemovie.com.

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