Whatever you say about suicide, most chances are, your opinion would sound either heartless, patronizing or both, with a touch of sanctimonious preachy feeling. How can you ever begin to understand what goes through a person’s mind, or heart, that leads her to such a terminal decision. If you haven’t walked in these shoes, I believe the saying goes.
That is why I want to start this post by saying, I understand. I – to use the clinical term – sympathize. I am not here to judge. I am not here to shame. I am here to, most empathetically, disagree and discourage.
If you understood the context of the title, you’ve likely watched Netflix’s original series – 13 reasons. I’ve heard opinions and if nothing else, they are emotional and charged.
For what it’s worth, from an artistic point of view, I thought the series was made extremely well. Just ask yourself, at the end of the day, what you feel about each of the characters. I doubt you’d have a black or white opinion of most. It’s pretty clear who the “good guys” and who the “bad guys” are, but there are also varying degrees of redemptive qualities. The message is clear and unapologetic, as it should be. The results of bullying are always, and forever devastating. The ripples affect a great many.
I’m not really going to list 13 reasons not to commit suicide, and really – one is enough, but like Hannah Baker in the series, I’d ask you to read through before making your mind up about this post.
I am strongly opposed to the death penalty. I believe we have no right to take a life of a person, as horrible as that person might be. When we execute a human being, we pretty much commit the same crime – murder. I believe there is one, and only one case where taking another person’s life is justified – to protect your own life, or the life of someone who’s in immediate danger (a danger coming directly from the person in question).
For me, having this belief means that life is precious and should be protected at all cost. From this stand point, ending my own life is unacceptable (and again – this does not come to fault those who did, nor to paint me as superior in any way, shape or form).
People of faith wake up in the morning and of the first thing they do, is thanking the creator for restoring breath in their bodies and bringing them back to life (consciousness). We say this in good days, and we say it in our darkest days.
Not everyone is a believer, but I’d like to suggest that we keep this habit, as a daily reminder of the preciousness of life.
Buddhism tells us that “life is suffering”. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. These are things that we can change. This is something we can, and need to work on (ourselves). There are great teachers and literature, and I highly recommend consulting them. Life does not begin and end at school (unfortunately one of the best hotbeds for bullies and meanness).
A reminder. I am not pretending to have gone through each and every hardship (thank God) that people who committed suicides have. I am not in a competition. I want to say that – as I know very well – many people suffer more than I do. If so many of them find the way, I don’t feel I have the right to feel sorry for myself.
Sounds harsh, but I am not saying “Just buck up!” or “Stop whining”. I’m saying that at the end of the day, the responsibility is on us. And at the young age of high school, we simply (most of us) do not have the perspective.
That is where I turn the finger back at the environment. Yes, ultimately, everything we do is our responsibility. But we’re also responsible for each other. Part of bettering one’s self, is having empathy, and actively reaching out to help. Help an old person cross the road, or simply sitting down and listening to someone. Simply being available. And we’re responsible for the people we bring into this world and the education they receive.
It is our responsibility to teach our kids these lessons. To SHOW them that there’s always another way. To show them we are always there and available to listen. To fight this plague called bullying.
It is also true for adults. Not all suicides are committed by youngsters, and not all are a result of schoolyard bullies. Some are committed over other types of bullies. Banks and debtors, abusive husbands and so many other types of menacing forces in our lives.
It’s up to us to be there for each other.
I’ve been privileged to have some really good people in my life (Family, friends, complete strangers), and went through some pretty dark moments because I had that sense of safety. Not everyone has that – or FEEL that they have it.
While we can’t always fix someone else’s reality (we rarely can), we can always listen. We can always do our best to help with the load others may carry. We can always show empathy.
I honestly believe there’s far more good than bad in the world. But the good must be more visible, sound louder, be felt.
That is our responsibility. Look at each other in the eye when you speak. No need to pry, just make absolutely sure your message is clear – I’m here and you’re not alone. Never alone.