Ten years ago, I was involved in an accident.
I was a freshman riding in a car with a senior who'd had a few drinks. He wasn't paying attention and pulled out in front of another car.
The cars collided, killing me instantly, but sparing my friend.
Yes, it was a mock accident, but I remember it to this day, and so does my friend, who is now a public information officer for an Arizona sheriff's office, and sometimes visits schools to present on such topics.
He was somehow able to get out of the car on his own power, but my body had to be removed using the jaws of life. It was an incredibly surreal experience. They covered me with a blanket to protect me, but the sound of that blade tearing into the steel and the feel of the entire car shaking shocked me. My body went stiff and when they carried me off on a stretcher, they had to push my arms down as I was frozen in place.
The accident simulation was only part of the exercise. There wasn't a mock funeral, per say, but my dad delivered an emotional monologue that made me realize how much I was loved and how much pain one simple mistake could cause.
A graduate from our school drove that point home, from prison. He was serving a sentence for vehicular homicide of a friend.
Those kinds of messages tend to stay with a person.
And they should.
There are so many ways to die, and many of them can be prevented.
Simple things such as staying sober and focused while driving make a big difference.
The most important lesson a student can learn is that actions have consequences and they affect other people.
That lesson goes beyond driving and applies to every area of life.
Bullying can make someone feel worthless and have unintended consequences, while standing up for someone else and encouraging them might just save a life.
The bottom line is to make sure your actions don't steal from someone else.
I'll end with this quote from "The Kite Runner,": When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. ... There is no act more wretched than stealing.