On March 31, 2017, Netflix released its original show 13 Reasons Why (based on the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher ). The series deals with harsh topics like suicide, sexual assault/rape, substance abuse, bullying, and domestic violence.
Without spoiling the show, the premise is that the main character- Hannah Baker- had taken her life and recorded thirteen tapes in which she explains what had led her to do so.
I had read the book a few years ago and had really loved it, but I was concerned that the Netflix series would glorify or justify suicide (I'll let you know now that it does not).
And with all the hype about this show, I feel like it's important to remember suicide is not the answer.
1. This is temporary. Good or bad, the situation you are in currently will be over. It will pass. Pain is not forever. Perfect moments are not permanent. Embrace the good. You can survive the bad.
2. There are other options. Confront a problem, defend yourself, wait for it to blow over and read a book in the meantime. Tell a teacher if you're being bullied. Tell your parents if you feel alone. Take action against it. Take care of yourself. Look up self-care hacks. Spend a movie night in with your dog. Journal. Write music. Express yourself. Create something.
3. There are people who love you- even if you don't see it. The world is not against you, even if it feels like it. You are loved. There are people in your life who love you. Maybe they are on the sidelines of your life where you don't often look, but you would see them there if you did. Or maybe you don't recognize the love they have for you. Maybe you're looking for friendly love and are dismissing someone giving you sisterly love. It can be easy to miss sometimes, look around. Look intently. You. Are. Loved.
4. Life is full of possibilities. One of the crazy things about life is that there are a million ways it could go, and no matter what road you end up on, you can always start on a new road. I'm not a mathematician- certainly not one who could be considered an expert in probability- but if you think about it, each life has a limitless number of futures. The thing to keep in mind is that each future is not accessible by staying on one road.
5. Food. This one might seem silly, but have you ever thought about all the food you've never tried? All the culture in the world that you haven't gotten a chance to tap into. I was raised in a family where meals were a time for family and communion. Dinner time was when we would all sit together and eat and talk about our day. I am not naive. I know that family dinner is a dying practice, and if you were not raised in that style I encourage you to connect people to your meals. Get lunch with a friend, have dinner with a cousin. Make even the mundane things in life have meaning.
6. You are not alone. There are billions of people on this planet who can relate to what you're going through. Reaching out is the most important thing you could do to. If you see someone else who seems to be struggling, be there for them. I was told that the best thing you can do for someone is to show up.
7. Passion. What do you love? I love books and acting. Like music and food, there are millions of millions of books I haven't read yet. Maybe for you, it's art, or skateboarding, or learning languages, or cosplay. Whatever it is you love to do, hold on to it. Sometimes it can feel like our passion can fade. During hard times, low times, a lack of passion in the things that once brought us joy can be crippling. Don't worry. Rekindle those flames.
8. People. I know that people can be mean. I was bullied for years and didn't really have a friend until middle school. And even through high school, I was bullied. I know what it's like, but trust me, even though people might seem like the worst... they can also be the best. Look at the people around you. Familiar faces and strangers. Look at how each smile is different, each laugh unique and distinctive. No two are alike, not even with twins. You are unique too you know... but we'll talk about that more in a minute. Every person has their own story with so much more to it than you or I could know.
9. There's no undo button. I'm sure you've heard it before, but suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It can be so easy to believe that things don't get better, but I promise you- it will get better. This is going to sound blunt: once you're gone, it's over. There's no waking up when it's better, no coming back when everyone misses you. Nothing.
10. You'll hurt others without meaning to. In 13 Reasons Why Hannah's parents are wrecked by the loss of their daughter. Hannah didn't mean to hurt them, but she does. These kinds of collateral damages are why people say suicide is a selfish act- because so much destruction is left in the wake of one person's choice.
11. You matter. Remember when I said we'd get back to talking about your uniqueness? Here we are. You are the only you this world will ever get. You- with your unique perspective shaped by your experiences. Your talents and passions which manifest in you differently than how they manifest in me or anyone else. You have value. You are loved. Self-care is not selfish.
12. Emotions are liars. Suicidal thoughts and feelings of emptiness and being alone do not define you. Emotions in themselves can be good things but are not always honest or trustworthy. They can lead us to believe we are in love when we are in lust, convince us that we feel free because we are being reckless. The truth is, suicidal thoughts can be daunting. Depression can be a burden that feels too heavy to carry. But you do not need to carry it alone.
13. There are ways to get help. You just have to ask for it. Talk to a friend, a parent, a counselor, a doctor, a cousin. Someone you trust. If you feel like you can't talk to anyone- out of shame or fear or whatever reason, then call a hotline. Get into a chat room with someone. You're not going to be a burden to them; they want to help you. I do too. It can be scary to open up to a stranger, but you are worth it.
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255