“Why” is the question we are haunted by when someone we love takes their life. Netflix picked up on this quandary and created the series, “13 Reasons Why,” about a teenage girl’s decision to complete suicide. She leaves her tragic story behind on cassette tapes implicating others for her fatal action. The teen drama was released on March 31, 2017, and has been renewed for its third season to air sometime later this year.
When this controversial show was originally broadcast, all kinds of folks weighed in. I didn’t. It was too close to home. I suppose I’m a reluctant expert, because in my youth I almost died by suicide.
Still, it seems important to speak up now, because according to a recent Forbes article by Dr. Robert Glatter, “…[a] study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital noted that from 1999-2014 the suicide rate increased three fold among girls between the ages of 10-14.” In addition, “Suicide is the second most common cause of death in the U.S. among youths between the ages of 10-19 …”
Within the faith community, Pastor Rick Warren, the well-known author of the New York Times No. 1 best-seller, “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?” and his wife, Kay, have stepped to the forefront in the battle for mental health awareness. Since, Matthew Warren, their 27-year-old son’s highly-publicized suicide six years ago, they have been champions for the cause raising awareness for those silently suffering with a mental health issue.
If you’ve never struggled with any form of clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or even crushing anxiety, you probably don’t understand how an afflicted person can’t simply will themselves out of their hopeless mindset. Depression, which is often a precursor to suicide, is different than being sad, disappointed, or experiencing an occasional down day. Instead when depression accompanied by suicidal ideation is unrelenting and untreated, it’s rather like having terminal cancer and being in so much agony nothing alleviates the pain. Sadly, www.mentalhealthamerica.net reports, “44,000 Americans die by suicide each year…[and] There is one death by suicide for every 25 attempts.” Addiction increases the risk, “Individuals with substance abuse disorders are six times more likely to complete suicide …”( www.verywellmind.com )
Since Netflix is preparing a third season of the graphic and exploitative “13 Reasons Why,” parents of teens should be alarmed, because some experts consider the program to be extremely harmful. It’s not only, “13 Reasons Why,” but reading books or viewing movies like, “Breathe” or “Me Before You,” which glamorize and promote physician-assisted suicide can influence individuals of any age to falsely decide a mental health or personal crisis can only be solved by terminating their existence.
If someone is contemplating suicide, I would like to offer you some reasons why not. Beginning with the fact, the people who love you will change, but not for the better. Most likely, they will never stop wondering what they could have done to make you stay.
Those left behind will probably blame themselves and be filled with regrets. A counselor will shake his or her head sadly confirming no one is to blame, but deep inside many loved ones will continue to be tormented by “what might have been.” I know this firsthand, because I lost someone I loved more than my own life to suicide.
Don’t embrace the lie that you are a burden, and suicide will free those you love. Instead you will create an agonizing pain for family and friends – a heartache so unbearable they could lose all hope for tomorrow. After all, statistics reveal those who lose a loved one to suicide, can become vulnerable to taking their own life.
Stay alive for the people you care about, even in the midst of the depression and the darkness. Reach out and get the help you need, because with professional treatment you can recover. My life is a testimony that with God’s grace you can live one day at a time. You will see the light again. Hope will return and one day you will remember you are on this Earth for a purpose.
If you need help please call the 24-hour Crisis Hotline in Shelby, Miami, or Darke counties at 1-800-351-7347, or in Allen, Auglaize, or Hardin counties at 1-800-567-4673, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Whatever you do, don’t give up.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Learn more at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. Her latest book, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is available on all major online outlets.