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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to you as a last resort. Please print my letter so I can get help. I am a young teen who feels like committing suicide.

My parents work long hours and provide a roof over our heads and food on the table, but we spend hardly any time together. While I have suffered no physical abuse, I've been hurt by my mother's verbal abuse. I think I'm depressed because in a survey I took at school, I matched the profile of a person suffering from depression.

I can't tell my parents, although I have tried numerous times. When I told Mom I wanted to see a psychiatrist, she said "no." I've tried talking to teachers but nothing works. Is there something I can do without involving other people? No matter what I say, no one takes me seriously. My friends think I'm joking when I tell them how I feel.

I want help -- I want to live -- but if there's no help, there's no point. I've thought about suicide a lot and put a knife to my wrist. I've hurt myself by hitting a wall and injuring my hand. Sometimes I cut my fingers, but people always believe me when I say it was an "accident." I'm tired of living a lie, Abby. Please help. -- DESPERATE IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR DESPERATE: Since you did not provide me with your location or telephone number, I am limited in what I can offer. Pick up the telephone and ask the operator to connect you with the local suicide hotline. Tell them EXACTLY what you have told me, and that I suggested you call. They will respond to your cry for help.

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago my beloved wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The shock, numbness and despair set in for both of us while she pursued aggressive and exhausting treatment.

The constant worry and trips to and from medical appointments took their toll on both of us. Our three young daughters and family members rallied to help us in every way possible, but it all became too much.

We were barely holding our own, when a newfound friend approached us about allowing a group of soccer moms to prepare some meals for us. At first, we were reluctant to accept this kindness, but we finally relented.

Soon the word got out. The soccer moms were joined by grammar school moms and others who wanted to help. Many wonderful people pitched in.

Each evening at exactly 5 p.m., our back doorbell would ring and a complete fully cooked meal would be there! Most of the time, these thoughtful people would leave before we could answer the door, because they didn't want to intrude. We were amazed at what these folks did for us, considering they were busy with their own families.

This unbelievable display of kindness continued uninterrupted for more than four months. Those meals -- and the overwhelming generosity of the volunteers -- meant the world to my family.

A surprising lesson from this experience was shared at a thank-you tea party that was held after my wife's recovery. One of the guests profusely thanked ME for allowing her to be of service! She said it taught her that true happiness and fulfillment comes only from helping others, and that her life was better for it.

There are so many nice people in this world, Abby. I know because I've met them! -- JOHN IN MELROSE, MASS.

DEAR JOHN: Thank you for an upper of a letter. It's important to accept help when offered. People WANT to assist in a patient's recovery. Providing meals or offering transportation are practical ways to help.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600