Name That Trauma:: Jody S. on a Possible Suicide Drowning

Hello Kindertrauma.

I want to thank you again for helping me figure out my two mystery traumas last year. Now I’ve got another one.

Late 70s, PBS. Story takes place in a small town or village, probably American, 18th or 19th century. Main character is a boy around ten years old. He is friends with a girl the same age. At one point in the story, the girl becomes an outcast for some reason, and there is a heartbreaking scene where she’s telling the boy they can’t be friends anymore because she’s “unclean.” I had never heard that word before, so it really stuck in my mind.

Then we see her walking sadly along the riverbank, and a little later we find out that her drowned body had been found. The scene that really shook me was the boy and his father praying, and the father says something like “God, please let it have been an accident.” I didn’t know what he meant at first, then I figured out he meant that the girl might have drowned herself on purpose.

At the time, I knew what suicide was, but I thought it was something strictly reserved for grownups, like voting or taking drugs. The idea that a child close to my own age could decide to kill herself was a terrifying glimpse into my own mortality. And PBS claims another victory over childhood innocence.

Any help with this would be tremendously appreciated!

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Hail Ants
Hail Ants
10 years ago

Some elements make me think of an episode of Wonderworks (“Bridge to Terabithia”) with Annette O’Toole as a school teacher, had a boy & girl who were friends and kind of outcasts/nerds, boy doesn’t go to meet the girl in the woods and she drowns because of this? Other things don’t match, it was set in modern times and aired in the late 80s…