A few months ago, I read the book “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher and I thought it was well done while it dealt with some pretty heavy topics–obviously suicide, but also bullying, sexual assault, rape, etc. It’s not one of those happy, feel-good reads, which I knew going into it.
Then the Netflix series came out under the same title, and really, I’m not sure I liked it or would even recommend it. I have a lot of mixed feelings. There are really good talking points for parents and children, but I don’t know that it’s something everyone should watch. Recent news articles such as this one on CNN and this one on ABC detail some of the concerns parents and others should have about their children or others who are vulnerable watching the series.
The whole thing was dark, with very little light to glean from it, if any. The rape and sexual abuse scenes were really triggering (my heart raced and my tension and anxiety amped way up–I had to re-ground myself in reality). It put suicide in an interesting light of someone perhaps choosing suicide as a way to get revenge on those who hurt her. And maybe that does happen sometimes, too, but in my experience, of those times I’ve been in a really dark place and contemplating my life, my thoughts of others are close to nonexistent. It’s all internal and my thoughts are all about how much everyone’s life would be better without me–that sort of unhealthy thinking. Depression and poor mental/emotional health are the main contributing factors to suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Suicide isn’t something anyone should consider and it needs to be addressed from a perspective of hope, that things will get better, people do love and care about you, and that there are many other options. Suicide should never be an option. Getting healthy by seeking professional help is what really needs to happen. Please, if you are having suicidal thoughts and/or actions, seek help from a professional, or a friend or family member who will take you seriously and assist you in finding the professional help you need (National Suicide Prevention hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255). Healing our inner scars will alleviate those thoughts, feelings, and tendencies. There is always hope.
Life really does suck sometimes, and other people’s behaviors and choices can and do affect us. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I can see the ripples in my life from being violated and hurt as a child. Sometimes we think the only way to stop hurting, to stop feeling the weight and pain left in the wake of abuse, is to leave this life behind. But it’s not true–that’s a lie Satan wants us to believe.
Because of our Savior Jesus Christ and His atonement, we can heal, we can stop feeling the pains of abuse. We have hope. We have options. We are not what happened to us, we are loved by God who knows who we are and what we need. We can use His atonement and all other resources available to find peace and heal. You’re never alone.
While the main character of “13 Reasons Why” provided 13 reasons, or people, that led to her decision to commit suicide, I decided we should all have “13 Reasons Why I Choose Life.” You can put these reasons some place prominent and refer to it when you’re struggling and add to the list. There are always reasons to keep living. And if you can’t find one, ask someone close to you to help you see all the reasons why you are needed.
Here are just 13 reasons I choose life over suicide:
- My six children (who could really count as individual reasons), who are not perfect, but are incredible little humans.
- My patient husband, who is also not perfect, but tries hard and loves me despite myself.
- My faith in God.
- I have goals I want to complete before my life is complete.
- I’m stronger than I think I am.
- My close friends who enrich my life and encourage me to keep going.
- I have overcome a lot to get where I am now.
- I refuse to let the actions of others control my life.
- Without pain, I couldn’t experience joy. If I’m in pain, I know joy is around the corner.
- I want to help others know they’re not alone.
- Chocolate and Dr Pepper — you can’t have those without a body.
- I like progressing and improving and I can’t do that without being alive.
- Suicide would be letting a lot of people down–my family, my friends, and myself. And, of course, God who doesn’t want any of us to give up.
What are your 13 (or more) reasons to keep on living? Write them down! Share them with a friend! Remind yourself frequently of every reason you have to stay alive.
Don’t give up, my friends. Suicide is not the answer. It will get better, you will overcome, you will heal. You are stronger than you know and you have so many people on earth and in Heaven rooting for you, cheering you on. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to cry out in prayer. You are loved. Don’t give up. You have many other, much better options. Reach out and seek help.