Ryan Knutson, MS, CSAC, LPC-IT, Professional Counselor
There has been a lot of hype in the media surrounding the recent Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. The hype comes from the fact that the series revolves around a very delicate topic. That topic is suicide—more specifically, teenage suicide. Rather than go into detail about points from the series, opinions, or reactions to the show, the focus here will be a twist on the series itself as the brighter side of 13 Reasons Why or… 13 Reasons Why NOT.
Many teenagers and adults struggle with general life issues, depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. For some, the series could trigger additional struggles, thoughts, or even behaviors. The point of this post is to focus on reasons to live, to shed light on some of the realities about suicide that are rarely brought up in the media or entertainment, and to provide resources.
Here are 13 Reasons Why NOT:
- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You will never know if things could change for the better if you don’t give it a try.
- There is help available. In spite of current struggles and things possibly appearing hopeless, people do get better. Individuals in helping professions spend time and money on school in order to be trained to help others.
- You are not alone. Even when it feels like you are all alone with your thoughts and issues, many people are struggling. Many people have a hard time growing up, especially during the teenage years.
- Ending one’s life leaves more questions than answers. Some people may think they can seek revenge or let others know how they feel through their own death. The truth is, survivors of suicide will never know how you feel unless you talk to them. Survivors are often left with questions such as: How could I have helped? Why would they want to do that? Did they know how much I loved them?
- Suicide is not glamorous. Suicide is not a natural response to adversity. Negative events in one’s life do not typically end with a response of suicide. This concept is often portrayed in the media as a natural response. Suicide can be glamorized in the media, but we have to remember these are shows for the purposes of entertainment. There is nothing entertaining about losing a loved one.
- Many thoughts and feelings are inaccurate. People who commit suicide often feel like they are a burden to others. It is impossible to know if one is a burden unless they ask someone. Much of these feelings are misconceptions. Chances are, if you ask someone if you are a burden, they will say you aren’t and talk to you in a supportive fashion.
- People do care even if they don’t know how to show it. Individuals who commit suicide often times react impulsively to negative situations. Everyone has issues at times. Not everyone expresses themselves appropriately all the time. Even if someone says something or does something which hurts you, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Communicate with others about things which bother you–this way, future hurt can be prevented.
- Struggles can provide meaning. Going through the struggles of life builds character and resilience. Some of the toughest people on the planet have lived the most difficult lives. Some of the most difficult things in life make us who we are. Some people actually find a meaning or purpose to their life based on what they have lived through.
- No matter who you are, there are people who care about you. As young adults it can feel like the entire world hates you. This could be due to issues at school, with parents, friends, etc. At the end of the day, there is someone who cares about you. Parents, family, friends, teachers and everyone who knows you, has the potential and most likely cares about you.
- You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a loved one kill themselves. If you really want to put life in perspective talk to someone who had a loved one commit suicide. Killing oneself leaves a trail of pain and misery. Parents, brother, sisters and other family are left to feel the torment of not knowing if they could have prevented the suicide.
- Not much in life is worth dying for. Besides fighting for your country, saving a life, or other heroic duties, there isn’t much in life (in my opinion) which is important enough to die for. Don’t give any issue which is minor, but may feel like it’s major at the time, the credit. Your life is much too valuable.
- Bad thoughts and feelings pass. Suicide can be an impulsive act based on specific events or situations. These events or situations won’t last forever and neither will bad thoughts or feelings. The way one feels right now may be much different than they will feel tomorrow or in the near future.
- The world would not be the same without you. No matter who you are, the world changes drastically when someone kills themselves. In my opinion, the world can only change for the better if you are still in it!
If you or anyone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, please consider the following resources available to you:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Great Rivers 2-1-1: Dial 2-1-1
- La Crosse County Mobile Crisis: 784-HELP
- Crisis Text Line: Text “START” to 74741
- Online resources: https://org, http://www.suicidestop.com, https://www.save.org
- For less immediate concerns, consider setting up an appointment to talk to a mental health professional
Check back online for future posts regarding 13 Reasons Why and how to meaningful conversations.