My Reasons Why

I’m very much like Clay when it comes to this series and Hannah’s tapes. For me, this wasn’t a show to binge. I had to take it in small pieces, sometimes shutting it off only minutes into an episode.

It took me two weeks to get through, but tonight, I finished 13 Reasons Why. I didn’t watch it for entertainment and I can’t say I enjoyed it but I needed to know how the show was going to handle mental health and suicide.

I will begin with this: Be warned, the show can definitely be a trigger.

Whether you’ve directly struggled with issues related to mental health and/or suicidal thoughts or you’ve been lucky enough that you haven’t, this show will have your mind racing. And maybe that’s what it’s supposed to do.

I’ve talked with many people who’ve watched the show. And I’ve saved dozens of articles that appear to paint this show in a negative light…but I haven’t read them yet. I intend to, but first, I wanted to watch the series and wrap my own mind around it.

As a person who has been through many of the same experiences as Hannah Baker, this show was tough to watch. And I think that is definitely one of the points this show was trying to make. Suicide is incredibly painful to watch. Depression is hard to sit back and watch without being able to do anything. Rape and sexual assault is unbearable to watch. But that’s the point, right? In Beyond the Reasons after the show they described why they chose to show the suicide and the rape. Both had my stomach in knots and I had to turn away during both. Then, upon realizing what I was doing, I forced myself to turn back to the screen and watch because it’s turning away from those experiences , blocking them out, that’s part of the problem.

Do I agree with everything the show depicted? No. Do I think it was necessary to show the act of suicide? No. Do I think it’s okay that Hannah chose to tell these people they’re the reason she died? No. But since this show came out, I’ve heard more people openly talk about suicide than I ever have in my life.

And that should be the point.

This show isn’t perfect. But neither are we. I’m not saying my opinion is the only opinion and I’m definitely not saying it’s right but this is my take on the series.

It’s opening up conversations.

There’s a high school near where I live that preventatively sent out a note regarding the show. Take that in for a moment. A school chose to speak out about suicide and make the topic top of mind for their students and parents before an act even occurred. If that’s the only good thing that comes out of this show, then I think it’s a win. But it’s not the only occurrence. Whether good or bad, people across the country are openly talking about this show, rape & suicide.

Don’t shy away from the ugliness.

13 Reasons Why covered so many taboo topics. Many of the kids in the show didn’t feel comfortable talking about these topics – rape, suicide, slut shaming – and that really bothered me. I found myself turning episodes off during the middle of them because I was so frustrated that they wouldn’t just talk about what was happening. I quickly realized I wasn’t frustrated with the show but with people in general. This happens every day. I know what it’s like to say the word “suicide” and immediately have people blush or even physically cringe, but we have to force ourselves to open up and talk about the difficult things in life because we never know when the person on the other end of the conversation may need that opportunity to open up.

Don’t stop trying. Don’t stop reaching out.

When I finished the series I was left with a lot of questions. Why the guns? Why the second suicide attempt? Why did they show certain things? Why didn’t they have suicide messages and hotline numbers attached to every episode? Why didn’t they choose to create a character who reached out and got help? I think, to some point, I still have some of these questions but I understood a lot more when I watched the after show, Beyond the Reasons.

In the after show, the actor who played Clay mentioned why he understood that some kids don’t reach out, “What do I say? What are they going to say? They’re not going to understand.” That eased some of the anger this show left me with. Whether it’s a teenager or another adult in your life, I can’t stress how important it is to make the people in your life aware of the fact that you’re there, day or night, to talk. Or just to listen. Sometimes as humans, we don’t have the words to describe what we’re feeling or maybe we’re scared the other person won’t understand it. But you know what? That’s okay. The other person doesn’t have to understand what you’re going through or why you made a certain decision. They just need to be there.

But, even so, you can try your hardest to be aware and make yourself available to those around you and you could still miss it. I write that sentence from experience. I’ve been made aware of it, looked for it and still missed it. Sometimes you can stare a suicidal person in the face and have no idea what’s going on in their mind.

That’s why it’s important to reach out. It’s not a one and done kind of conversation. Please, I beg of you, continuously reach out to those in your life.

You matter to me.

Make yourself available to the people in your life on a regular basis and continue reiterating that fact to them. Tell people you love them every chance you can.

Have the difficult conversations.

Don’t miss an opportunity to reach out, to ask questions. Don’t miss the opportunity to recognize when someone is in crisis.

“How am I supposed to live with that?”

“Any way you can.”

– 13 Reasons Why

Watch the show, don’t watch the show. It doesn’t matter to me. But do me a favor? Talk about suicide. And depression. Have conversations about mental health. Take an uncomfortable topic and help take the stigma out of it. Don’t minimize other people’s situations. Make yourself available. Look for signs, but know that you may not always see them.

Tell people they matter to you because, believe me, you’ll wish you could when they’re gone.

13 reasons why

 

Giving Back


It still catches me off guard when I see someone wearing a TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) shirt or sporting a bumper sticker. It always takes me back to the first time I heard about this organization and realized how much of an impact speaking up about suicide, depression, and self-harm can actually make.

If you’re feeling generous this week and want to support a great cause, log on to the Sevenly website and support TWLOHA with your purchase.

New Suicide Prevention Program Goes Into Action

After eleven years of being somewhat dormant, the government has finally put a new suicide prevention plan into effect. This new strategy aiming to help prevent and gain awareness on suicide will include $55.6 million in grant funding for programs.

One part of this plan is a social media application which will be paired with Facebook Inc. to help report suicidal concerns seen on the social media website, as reported by Reuters. Many people have reached out on Facebook as a last cry for help. The Internet can be a cruel place, as was the case with Tyler Clementi and many others who have suffered from bullying, with the new Facebook application users can report comments on the site and the individual who posted it will then receive an email with hotline information and places to go to talk about the problem at hand.

This new funding will also go to prevention programs and will serve to increase awareness in the media through PSA’s and will promote the National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-TALK).

Many outlets will be getting involved with this new initiative to help prevent more suicides from happening, “We didn’t really talk about suicide much,” Surgeon General Benjamin said to Reuters. “We didn’t bring up the idea of suicide. We were afraid it might give someone a new idea. Now we know that it’s important to ask, ‘Have you had suicidal thoughts?’”

To finally see action put into place makes everything that we’re doing here worthwhile. There hasn’t been a plan in over ten years, and suddenly, we’re receiving funding and creating online applications that could help save lives. Progress is being made, we just can’t allow ourselves to stop now. It’s all about spreading awareness.

World Suicide Prevention Day

“The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined,” according to statistics released by the IASP.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day. For the past ten years, the International Association for Suicide Prevention along with many other organizations, have dedicated their time and work to educating others on this topic, in hopes of saving lives and preventing the numbers from rising.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year; over the span of a year, that amounts to one death every 40 seconds. It is also one of the leading causes of death among young people. Suicide is estimated to be under-reported for many reasons, one of them including the stigma surrounding the topic in societies across the world.

Suicide is preventable. In many cases, those who take their own lives have never sought out medical help or shared their feelings with family or friends. Many people who commit suicide have attempted before.

The effects that suicide has on family and friends of the loved one are immeasurable and can have detrimental effects on those left behind. Today, I ask you to reach out to someone. Tell them how much they mean to you, be willing to open up your eyes and listen to what people around you are telling you.

Tonight, at 8 pm, I ask you to light a candle near a window in your home, apartment, or bedroom. This candle signifies your support of suicide prevention. It also honors surivors of suicide and is a way to remember those who have lost their lives to suicide.

Today is simply one day out of the year to show your support. Speak up. Open up. Save a life.

National Suicide Prevention Week 2012

Out of the Darkness Walk 2011It has been over a year since my boyfriend killed himself.

It has been over a year since I started this blog which has forever changed my life.

It has been over a year since I, myself, was diagnosed with depression.

In the past year I have offered myself, and my stories, to be exposed to the people who have known me my whole life, and also to people whom I barely know. Taking the time to educate myself and others about suicide and depression will be something that will continue to be very important to me and I will strive to do for years to come.

This upcoming Sunday, September 9th, marks the start of National Suicide Prevention Week. To kick off this week, I will be walking in an Out of the Darkness Walk, which supports those who have lost someone to suicide. During this week, I’ll be sharing pieces of my own story as well as working to educate and spread information on how suicide and depression is being dealt with in our world and our media, and what you could do to help.

During this week, I ask that you all take a step outside of your comfort zone. Take an hour out of your day to share your story, or listen to someone else’s. All it takes is a few minutes that could save someone’s life.

Internalizing an External Problem

It happens all too often: you don’t get the job after a great interview or the love of your life walks out on you. Something happens in the real world that may be out of one’s control, and yet they blame themselves for the problem. While most of us choose to dwell on the topic for a day or a week and eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s, others take the matter to a worse extreme.

Since the recession hit, reports have shown that suicide rates are on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 800,000 people kill themselves every year and what is possibly due to the economic circumstances, these numbers have only gotten higher, especially in the Western World. In countries like Ireland, Portugal, and Greece the suicides rates have risen 15 percent in 2011 as compared to the numbers from 2007.

The reports also showed that countries with citizens who have a higher income have lower suicide rates due to the fact that these people may not feel the repercussions as much as a person in a less-wealthy country. The numbers not only show how much of a toll the economy is taking on people, but they also show just how materialistic our world has become.

A writer in the Netherlands spoke of internalizing problems in our world today,the external problems of economic recessions … is often internalized, largely because the media, politicians, priests and sages insist that any calamities that befall on the individual are her/his fault and not a structural or institutional problem. Therefore, the sense of guilt, self-hatred, and pain is so intense that to stop the hurt, the individual must kill the self, instead of pointing to the predatory institutional system as the root of the problem.”

Although I am not trying to downplay the problems happening all over the world in our economy today, there are many ways of dealing with this problem other than ending your life. There are social media support groups and outlets everywhere; many other people are struggling with much of the same problem. As we have recently seen, it doesn’t matter who you are, suicide and depression are affecting people all over the world on a daily basis. Help someone you see struggling today and don’t let someone you know become another statistic.

Love Is Louder Than The Pressure to Be Perfect

Earlier on this summer I wrote about the lack of celebrities supporting campaigns that help raise awareness for suicide, depression, or mental illness. Since then, I have recently been reading about celebrities that have been opening up about their own struggles with mental illness who have started raising awareness after seeking their own help. I heard about Demi Lovato’s story last year in the news, but it wasn’t until it was recently brought up to me again that I found it had so much more meaning. Due to the impact the story left on me and seeing how much courage it takes to open up about something so personal, I thought I would share it in hopes that it would do the same for someone else.

Demi Lovato, former Disney star, singer who is now topping the Billboard charts with her song “Give Your Heart A Break”, and current judge on X Factor, has been struggling with her own mental illness, self-infliction, and eating disorders for years.

Her story, along with countless others, proves just how easy it is to put off getting help until the problem has gone too far. It wasn’t until she had a mental breakdown while on tour that her manager and family members had an intervention and she decided to get help.

Lovato, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has had a long-term struggle with eating disorders, checked into a rehabilitation center last year where she could learn how to cope with her mental illness. Now that she is moving on to the next stage in her life she has appeared in many different media outlets including, People and the recent cover of Cosmopolitan, she has been opening up about what she struggled with for years in hopes that her story can help others going through similar situations.

“Don’t put yourself in danger. It’s very crucial that you get your feelings out — but don’t ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning,” Lovato told Seventeen.

Now that she feels she is back in control of her life, the 18-year-old singer/actress is supporting a campaign for young women who might be struggling with eating disorders, depression, cutting, or other mental illnesses. The campaign, “Love Is Louder Than The Pressure to Be Perfect”, gives girls a chance to open up about their own battles and gives them a place to reach out to others and a place to turn for outreach.

It seems more and more campaigns are being created to target specific groups and give the individuals a place to turn where they’ll feel safe and comfortable to open up about their problems. Every campaign that is shared could be one more precious life saved.

I Won’t Give Up

Image from Justin Ruhl via http://jasonmraz.com/photos/

Over the span of this past year, I’ve done a lot of reading and researching on depression and suicide. Each time I sit down to read about or listen to someone else’s personal experience, I can’t help but be moved by it.

A few weeks ago I came across a video of Jason Mraz explaining the meaning behind one of his most recent popular songs, “I Won’t Give Up”. Whether you’re a fan of Jason Mraz and his music or not, the explanation behind his song is beautiful. It’s a reminder that even the most successful humans can be touched by doubt, depression, and hardships. As he says in his video “we’re only human”.

Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to someone else’s story. Open up. And remember…you’re not alone.

 

Suicide is One of the Leading Causes of Death Among Troops

Reports have recently been released stating that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among soldiers in the military.

The Pentagon released information last week that reported the second leading cause of soldier deaths, outside of combat, was suicide. According to these reports, in the past year 154 soldiers have died by confirmed or suspected suicide while a total of 127 military men and women died in the Afghanistan war.

To me, this information was not only alarming but terribly sad. These service members are risking their lives daily so that we in America can enjoy our freedom and safety. Why aren’t we doing something more to give them help in return?

Daily News interviewed a widow who had a spouse that was serving in the military and ended up committing suicide. Stories like Kim Ruocco‘s, show just how devastating this problem really is. Although there are programs for veterans such as Counseling Options, Suicide Prevention Services, and Outreach Centers, it seems as though more could, or should be done, to help them.

These people are risking their lives for each and every one of us, the least we could do is try to save theirs in return.

One Step in the Right Direction

With reports being released stating that suicide rates are on the rise, it is a breath of fresh air to hear some good news being reported in the media as well.

This past week ABC Newcastle reported that they are releasing new guidelines when it comes to suicide and self-harm. This ABC station said there is a taboo when it comes to self-injury and/or suicide in the media and this is something that needs to be broken.

As I have done past research I have found that Australia is one country that is much more open when it comes to reporting on such topics. They do their best to not report in such ways that would be at risk for others to attempt a copycat suicide, but they believe this is an issue that people shouldn’t shy away from talking about.

This story was released days after the statistics on U.S. youth suicide were shown on the rise. It would seem as though the United States could benefit from news media adjusting their policies to report more openly on the facts and what is happening in our country. Time will tell if this new way of reporting will work for Newcastle and if it does, maybe there’s hope for other media to make the change as well.