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Published April 24, 2017

Suicide: 13 Reasons Why I Didn’t

Why? A one syllable question that often requires a multi-layered answer. If there even is an answer. Th1rteen R3asons Why, a novel turned Netflix series, attempts to answer the question of why a teenager commits suicide. Hannah, in her own voice, explains the 13 reasons why she ended her life.

13 Reasons Why Misses the Mental Illness Element

While the scenarios she describes are traumatic, there seems to be a missing piece as to why she ends her life. Her ability to pinpoint specific events almost seems too neat and undermines the complexity of suicide. It’s never mentioned that Hannah could have been suffering from mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 90% of suicide victims have some sort of mental illness. With statistics like that, it’s hard to imagine that her death was totally caused by external factors.

Hannah could be a prime example of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Did the trauma aggravate her mental state, or was she unable to deal with her trauma because she was already struggling mentally? Quite frankly, the only person who can answer that question is the author. After all, Hannah is fictional. But approximately 43,000 Americans die from suicide each year. That’s 1 every 12.3 minutes. There’s nothing fictitious about that.

That’s a lot of grieving friends and families left asking why who, unlike Hannah’s family, will probably never get an answer. In order to address these alarming statistics, perhaps there’s another question we should be asking:

“Why didn’t you commit suicide?”

I didn’t commit suicide. I’m a survivor. And I have as many reasons as Hannah — reasons I’d like to explore, as I think the answers may help others who are struggling.

There are so many of us who have thought about suicide. Some of us got further along in the planning process than others but, thankfully, didn’t follow through with it.

What is the difference between those of us who didn’t and those who did?

Our society has to break the stigma associated with mental illness, self-harm, and suicide. If we survivors can openly speak about our experiences without fear of judgement, maybe we can prevent some real life Hannah’s from choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, if someone were to ask me why I didn’t commit suicide, here’s what I would say:

13 Reasons Why I Didn’t (in no particular order)

  1. Therapy – Being able to discuss with someone all the thoughts that were going through my head was a big help. Before therapy, I always felt like I was on the verge of exploding because I was holding so much in.
  2. Medicine – Anxiety medication helped to take the edge off so that I could process things without getting overwhelmed. Antidepressants got my chemicals back on track.
  3. Friends – They reminded me that I was worthy of being happy and loved.
  4. Love – I wanted to marry and have kids of my own. A part of me was willing to wait for that even when I was depressed.
  5. Religion – I’d heard that suicide was a sin.
  6. Fear – I didn’t know if what I would find on the other side of death would be better than what I was dealing with.
  7. Family – Although I didn’t always feel like I was “one of them,” I knew they loved me.
  8. Guilt – I didn’t want to leave people suffering because of my actions. How would it affect whomever found me? Someone would have to pay for funeral since suicides void insurance policies.
  9. Pain is temporary – Would it really hurt forever?
  10. Logistics – Pills? Razor? Gun? Where? When? What about my belongings?
  11. Indecision – Did I really want to die?
  12. It wasn’t that bad – Even when I was curled up under a blanket in my dark apartment, I was always aware enough to know that there really were worst situations that I could be in.
  13. Possibilities & Hope – Things really did get better. Suicide would’ve kept me from finding that out.

My list may seem random. My reasons may not be convincing to someone else. But, there are reasons to put down the bottle of pills or razor or whatever your weapon of choice is. Take it from me–a survivor of depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm–it really does get better. It may not happen as quickly as you want. But, with patience and proper support, it will happen. Whether it’s 13 or 3 or 1, there is a reason why suicide is not the answer.

The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them. J.K. Rowling

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  • Sheon Little

    Sheon

  • Sheon The Writer is a middle school teacher turned technology specialist, poet and essayist. She has work appearing at Carolina Woman's online publication. She has been a member of several writing groups in North Carolina. Sheon The Writer hopes to publish a collection of poems and essays. All my articles.

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