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13 reasons why not – suicide is NOT the answer

 In Life threatening issues

Have you heard about the movie “13 reasons why”?  Boy, what an uproar it has caused.  Schools are banning it, parents are forbidding their children to watch it…. but it sure is getting people talking.  And whether you think the movie is good or bad, it’s not a bad thing to get us talking about suicide.

I have mixed feelings about the movie, but I do think it’s good to draw attention to such a difficult subject. And just in case you’re not familiar, the movie is about a teenager who kills herself, but first leaves behind a box of 13 recordings with a name on each one.  She asks that each person listen to their recording so they will know what part they played in her death.   Pretty morbid, I agree.   But that’s not the issue.  The battle cry behind the banning of the movie is that people think it encourages and glamourizes suicide.  Parents and teachers are in a panic, but it took the brilliance of 3 high school students to turn this movie around.

These teens are the creators of “13 reasons why not”.   I know, brilliant, right?    Here’s what they did….  They asked around at school to find teens who had the opposite story.  They were looking for the reasons why kids did NOT hurt themselves.  And one by one, they heard about kindness and support and friendships that went way beyond the norm.

So for 13 days, during morning announcements, a different student would get on the PA and thank a person, by name, for their role in helping them get through a difficult time.  At first, it was a big surprise to the students and faculty at the school, but by the 3rd or 4th day, everyone was looking forward to the stories, even hoping that maybe they would be mentioned!  Students started talking about the “13 reasons why not”  instead of the “13 reasons why”.  Whenever somebody did something that was helpful or kind, it was noticed for what it was… an attempt to help each other.

Their little experiment brought attention to suicide, just like the banned movie did, but these 3 teens chose to focus on prevention and support.  They made everyone realize that tough things happen to all of us, but none of it has to be handled alone.

Depression and suicide attempts are very real and more common than we would like to think.  As I’m writing this, a famous singer, Chris Cornell, just took his own life and everyone is totally shocked.  They had no idea, even his wife had no idea…  Robin Williams took his own life, again to the absolute shock of the world.  And again, we had no idea!  He didn’t act depressed- in fact he was a brilliant comedian, right up until the end.

What’s the answer, then?   If we can’t see the warning signs until it’s too late, how can we help prevent these tragedies and get these people the help that they need?  What do you guys think?  What exactly are the signs that they want us to be looking for right now?  Should we be looking for something else?   What are your stories?  Has suicide touched your life in some way?

I would like to see every Junior and High School in the country have a “13 reasons why not” program.  Or 100 reasons why not!  No limits here.  Mental health affects everyone.   How can you help?

 

 

 

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