Feeling scared, sad, angry or depressed?

Feel like nobody understands you?

You are not alone.

Every teenage boy has some of these feelings, but we are taught that big boys don’t cry…NO FEAR…suck it up and be a man.

A wise BTM boy said,

The kids at this school are all going through the same thing, we just don’t tell anyone. We just go through the day pretending like everythings fine. At Boys to Men, it’s ok to let out the anger and tears, because we’re all brothers.”

The stories below are from a few courageous boys willing to tell the truth about what they really feel inside.

If you want to share your truth or just need someone to talk to, email me at craig@boystomen.org. I will get back to you.

  • Know yourself. This is the toughest battle of all, and the most important. If you don’t understand why you do what you do, you are not in charge of your life. You must know and understand your emotions. What makes you sad, glad, mad and afraid? Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry, or show people you care. If you deny your sadness, you will never be truly happy. If you keep your sadness bottled up, I guaranty it will shut you down.  If you can’t control your anger, you will fight useless battles and unnecessarily hurt people, including yourself. If you claim to have no fear, you are a fool. To be a great warrior you must know what you are afraid of. Own your fears or they will own you. To own them you must know them. What are you afraid of?
  • Tell the truth. If you tell the truth, you will never have to listen to that negative voice in your head. Your lies will feed this voice and give it power. You may have to pay an immediate price or consequence for telling the truth, but a lie does long term damage to your soul.
  • Admit and learn from your mistakes. You are not perfect, nobody is. Your mistakes are your best teacher. Only when you admit your mistakes can you learn from them. Again, listen to the voice in your head. It will tell you when you did something wrong. Don’t beat yourself up when you screw up or make a mistake. Instead, be quick to admit mistakes, quick to forgive yourself, and quicker to make amends for any damage caused to others.
  • Always have a dream. This doesn’t have to be a big “What am I going to do for the rest of my life” dream. That will come when the time is right. Decide what makes you happy. I don’t care what your dream is. As long you wake up in the morning excited and eager to get started. You have a gift to bring to this world. Decide what you want, what you are willing to fight for, and go for it. Life without a dream is boring.
  • Take responsibility for your life. Victims blame everyone but themselves for their problems. Bad things happen to everybody. It is not about what happens to you, but how you deal with it that defines you.
  • Don’t let your past hold you back. You can wallow in negative things that happened to you, or you can use them to your advantage. No matter how badly you were treated or wounded in the past, there is gold in these wounds. Choose to turn that wound into gold.
  • Be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are not like anyone else on this planet. You have your own gifts. Honor your strengths and admit your weaknesses. What is the best thing about you? Don’t play small.
  • Know your enemy. How does he usually attack? What are his weaknesses? His strengths? What are his weapons? Now understand this! Your enemy is not another person, but the way you react to that person. From now on be prepared. Who or what triggers you. Your friends, parent, teachers? What have they said or done in the past to that bothered you. How did you react? How can you choose a different approach to diffuse the situation.
  • Choose your friends carefully. This is one battle where you have total control and your actions can have a quick and lasting affect on your life. You can’t choose your parents, guardians, teachers, if you have a good family or bad, or if you grow up rich or poor. You, and only you, can choose who you spend your time with. Go through your list of friends and ask yourself, if I really need help would this person be there for me? Would I be there for them? Do they ever make fun of me? Do I really like them, or do I use them to get something I want, like status or protection? Do they ever ask me to do something I don’t want to do to fit in with the group? Do they lift me up or bring me down?
  • Always keep your word. Do what you say you will do. Be a man of your word. This is a rare and valuable trait. Think very carefully before you agree to do something. Is this something that you want to do? Don’t be a people pleaser. When you don’t do what you agreed to do, and this will happen, take responsibility immediately. Never make excuses. Take complete ownership, apologize and make amends for any damage caused by your actions. Learn your lessons. Do it better next time?

Hey Craig how are you doing??

I miss you guys a lot (his family moved). I miss the vibe and warmth I got from being around you guys.

I have been lost for the last months. Living out here, I have no one to talk to.

It’s sad that I can’t talk to my friends about my problems, but they can talk to me about theirs. I sit with them and listen, and care for them. I make them happy again and help them get back on their feet. But they can’t do that for me. All I ask is for some one to listen.

I guess I have too many problems for them to handle. I keep my problems bottled up, and I keep messing up every time. I try my hardest to stop what I do, but it’s hard with no one there to talk to.

I can’t rely on my friends. All they want to do is smoke, drink, tag and do bad things to try to be cool.

My life is a wreck. A lot of bad things are happening around me and to the ones I love.

I lost a friend, I have one who’s dying of lung cancer, my grandpa is going to die soon and my moms hurting more every day.

She always wants to yell and fight with me, and I try not to fight back. I’m trying my hardest to make my mom proud of me again.

I hate how I’m living right now. I feel like nobody recognizes me anymore. I fell like an invisible child.

I wish I had a father to talk to Craig. I do. I cry at night when my moms not home.

I thought of suicide twice already

Why did I have to grow up like this?

Why did I have to be the one to suffer this way?

Why didn’t I have a good family?

Why did I have to be a troubled boy?

Why did I have these problems?

Why is it that I’m always getting the bad end of the stick?

I don’t like to live the life I do. I really want just give up and stop trying. I don’t know why I keep trying and why every one just shuts me out. I feel like people just use me to fill there needs.

I’m lost I don’t know what to do any more Craig. I don’t.

I would like to leave this place go some where no one can find me.

I bet nobody would realize I’m gone.

I just want to know why I get punished. Why is god making me feel all this pain and hurt? Nobody should ever go through this. No one. I hate it.

I just want end my life, but I can’t. I have 4 reasons, my nephew and 3 nieces I don’t know what to do. I don’t.

I trust you guys the most. I miss you guys a lot. I wish I was with you guys.  I can’t stop crying about not being with you guys. You guys and my mom, sisters and their kids mean the world to me.

I thought I had cried before.

I’m reaching out to you Craig for guidance and help. I need to be with you guys again, to remember what it was like to be surrounded by true friends and fathers.

I can’t go on like this any more. I need help and some one to talk to. I need you guys.

I can’t hold it in any more, I can’t.

I miss you all and I love you guys. I don’t know what to say any more. I haven’t been the same Craig. I can’t begin to express how much I miss u guys. I do. I do.

Oh well I am going to cry myself to sleep okay.


At 11, I realized he wasn’t. That’s when I stopped caring, and started getting in trouble.

I liked acting up and being disrespectful to teachers. That was who I was and who I wanted to be. I noticed every time I got in trouble more people would talk to me and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be noticed. I wanted to be noticed so bad I would ask my so-called “friends” what I should do next.

One day I was watching a story about prison on TV. As I was watching I kept saying I want to go. I wanted to go to prison because it looked fun to me. I wasn’t afraid of anything or any one. I could do anything in this world and I didn’t care. I knew I was on the edge. I saw the disappointment in my family, my teachers, my true friends and in me. I didn’t want to keep doing this. But it had such a tight grip on me. I couldn’t escape my self. All I wanted to do was die. I didn’t feel accepted. I never felt wanted by any one as a friend. I never got support. People would just run away from me when I opened up to them and started trusting them. I felt like crap. I really wanted to die and stop bothering every one and wasting their time.

After Boys to Men, my perspective on life was changed.    I felt like I was some one. I felt like I can do anything I put my mind to it. I got a second chance in life. At first I didn’t really noticed the changs, but my teachers did. They would say that I was being more respectful and responsible. I didn’t believe them. It was hard for me to believe in any one. When we kept having our groups once a week, I felt more comfortable, more respected. If they saw I was mad they would ask what’s the matter. I could see that they cared. I have never felt that way. Like I was cared about.

I’ve wanted and waited for something like this for a long time. To be accepted for who I am and who I wanted to be.  I knew these guys would have my back. I’m very sure my life would be way different then it is now without Boys to Men. I have a lot of goals in my life now and I have the inspiration to make them succeed. I’ve never thought I would come so from far from where I was to where I am now. I still wonder how they changed me, a kid with a lot of problems. To a kid that got a scholarship for collage and is going onto high school with goals to succeed and end up with a high GPA.

Boys to Men taught me so much. And I’m going to use it and make sure my kids won’t grow up in the same environment as me. I know what I want out of life and Boys to Men will help me get there. They won’t judge me for who I am or who I want to be.  I’ve never thought I could find that in my life. I found a lot and I’m not going to let it go. I’m going to use it and show every one that: it may be hard to have a good life at first but in the end your going to be happy if you work hard in what you want to do and succeed in life. I thank my life to Boys to Men. I’m so proud to be in this program. I plan to help a boy when I’m a mentor and give them all the support they need to live their life right.

Monday…This afternoon I got a call from one of our BTM boys. With panic in his voice, he asked if I would talk to his friend. He said his friend told him he was going away, that he may never see him again, and asked him not to follow him. He said they were at a park 2 minutes from my house. I said I would be right over. I got to the park and saw the 2 boys under a tree. His friend was crying, with a look of hopelessness on his face. I looked in the eye and told him I was here to help. He started crying even more and told me he planned to commit suicide today. He was upset because he thought his parents didn’t love him, they were throwing him out of the house, and he couldn’t talk to them about anything because they always made it worse. He didn’t know what else to do so and suicide seemed like his only way out.

I first ask him if he had a suicide plan. I was relieved when he said he didn’t. I then asked him if he really wanted to commit suicide or did he want help to find another way. I want help, but the only person who listens me is my friend (the boy who called me). I don’t know what else to do! I told him about some of my pain, sadness and suicidal thoughts in my teenage years. Then I told him that my mission in life was to help teenage boys. That for 16 years I had witnessed thousands of boys open up and talk about the pain we all carry inside. That he could come to a Boys to Men meeting and hear other boys talking about the same secret feelings and despair he was feeling. That if he had the courage to come to the meetings and tell the truth, he would soon have a group of boys and men he could trust.

At that moment, his expression changed from despair to hope. I WANT THAT, he said. When is the next meeting? I told him I would set up a meeting tomorrow night for him. He said I will definitely be there. We talked for about 30 minutes more, until I was confident he was not at risk, and I drove them both home. In the car he told me, “you saved my life today”. I said you saved your own life today by having the courage to tell someone how much you are hurting. You saved your own life by admitting that you were lost and didn’t know what to do. You saved your own life by trusting your friend, and having the guts to bare your soul to a complete stranger and let out your deepest, darkest secrets. That takes courage my friend and I am proud to know you. I gave him my phone number and told him to call anytime. When we parted he was a different young man. His face was radiating joy, trust and most importantly, hope.

Tuesday…I put the word out to 13 BTM young men and men that we were meeting that evening to support a young man who was asking for help. This kid was a stranger, yet all 13 showed up. We started the meeting by talking about Junior Seau, a man who had it all, but in the end he didn’t have anyone he could talk to about the pain that ultimately caused him to take his life.

The subject for this meeting is suicide. Who wants to start? Three mentors started of by talking about their suicidal thoughts when they were teenagers. Then the young men started to tell their stories. Every one of them shared deep secrets they had never told anyone. 11 of the 14 revealed that they had seriously thought about suicide. Three had taken steps, but a friend reached out and stopped them.

One 15 year old told an incredible account of putting a noose around his neck and kicking out the support stool. He said pictures of his friends and family flashed through his mind and he knew this was not the answer. He grabbed the rope and pulled himself back to life. Then his mom walked in! He said he would never forget the sound of her scream. Wow!

Then the boy from yesterday spoke. He was very touched that everyone showed up to support him and was amazed at the level of truth the BTM guys were willing to share. With tears in his eyes he told the group, I don’t feel like I am alone anymore.

A 17 year old that has grown up in a very challenged family was the last to speak. He ended the meeting with this. “I’ve had to live with my mothers numerous suicide attempts and I know the pain that it causes. Life is full of ups and downs, but the beauty and wonder that life has to offer is far too precious to throw away. I care too much to ever do that to my friends and family” Everyone left that meeting feeling the connection and powerful bond we created by having the courage to tell the truth.

If you need help please call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline