I didn’t kill myself.
By now many of you have probably watched or at least heard of the hit Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why. It’s main focus is to demonstrate how what you say and do, no matter how small, matters. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so be kind, because you don’t know what impact you could have.
Obviously a huge focal point of the series is the inevitable suicide of the female lead. As the focus is more anti-bullying than anti-suicide, I’ve heard some opinions that the show glorified suicide. But as someone who’s been there, I disagree.
More people are prone to accidentally or intently being hurtful than being suicidal, that focus is warrented. That doesn’t mean the show is pro-suicide. In fact I saw many measures taken to show that Hannah Baker made the wrong choice. She died not realizing the happiness she could have had, mistaking that everyone hated her. She left behind a wake of hurt for her loved ones. It was not an easy or painless death. I’ve heard complaints the the suicide scene was shown in such graphic detail, but I’m glad it was. It destroyed the illusion that suicide is an easy out.
To people who might think it was “triggering”, it was. As someone who relates to Hannah Baker in many ways, the show brought back emotions I thought I had suppressed. It was painful to watch. But even though in the short term it hurt, in the long run it pushed the option of suicide farther away. It helped.
Most importantly it opened the discussion, a much needed discussion often hidden by stigma. It may not have been perfect, but it was needed. It missed opportunities to discuss mental health, could’ve provided more warnings, among other things. However, movements don’t go from barely discussing the topic to getting everything right. It’s a process, and 13 Reasons Why encourages that process even if it’s in the beginning side.
In my life, due to a combination of tough times, mental health issues, and life circumstances. I have been on that edge more than once, and nearly crossed it. I’m so glad I never did. I do, however, know what it’s like to be in that irrational place where you feel you aren’t wanted, needed, and just a burden. In the spirit of the show and a trend I’ve seen started, I’m going to list 13 reasons. Except these are the opposite of Hannah’s reasons, these are reasons why I chose to stay alive at various points.
1. I hadn’t made all the differences I could
I always knew I wanted to leave the world better off than I found it, or at least give the effort to do so my all, as cliche as that sounds. If I opted out of life early I wasn’t giving that effort my all, I wasn’t fulfilling what I saw as my purpose, I was leaving future people I could help out.
2. I always had someone
My grandma always said all it takes is one person to change the course of someone else’s life. I can speak to the truth of this. I always had someone in my life who was there to listien, there to care, and that made all the difference. It wasn’t always the same person, but that’s ok.
3. I had to get back to Ireland
I know my friends tease me for talking non-stop about my adopted home, but there’s a reason. When I was 7 I apparently asked all my cousins to adopt me so I didn’t have to go back to America. Ireland was one of the only places in my life where I felt like I fit in. Sure it’s good to be unique, (something my preschool teacher often called me but not convincingly in a complimentary way), but sometimes it’s nice to just feel at home. I hold on to this goal so tightly because it gives me hope. It’s a light even in my darkest times that I have something to look forward to.
4. My family
We’ve been through so much as a unit that I wouldn’t want to inflict any more pain. They don’t deserve that.
4. I had to prove the naysayers wrong
I am very fortunate to have had people in my corner throughout my life, but as everyone does I also had the opposite. In the form sometimes of teachers or administrators even. Or people I loved. To some, expectations were low of me. I wouldn’t go to college. I would get addicted to drugs. I would end up permanently hospitalized, or never leaving home. I had to show them they were wrong. That I was resilient. That I was more than what happened to me or what I was diagnosed as. I had to show them I could achieve not only a normal life, but a great one.
I love laughing. I love corny jokes, memes, puns, and all the likes. I love that euphoric feeling of joy that comes with it. Most of all I love sharing that with people. I didn’t want to miss out on any more laughs.
6. Whatever the hit show was at the time
Yes, I’m aware I watch a lot of TV and movies. Not only is it a great distraction but if it’s good it keeps me on my toes. I need to know what happens next. Which helps keep me thinking of the future.
7. So much of the world I haven’t seen
I love travel. I love experiencing new things and cultures and atmospheres. Each time you come away enlightened. I wanted to give myself a shot those experiences. Whether it be a new nature spot or a trip to Wellington, I didn’t want to end my chances of reaching it.
8. All the fluffy things
As much as I deny being a girly girl, I will squeal at the sight of 99.9% of animals. Highly ironic since I’m allergic to most, but all the same I can’t miss out on the joy of affection from these sweet creatures. Even just looking at them is a goodness I want to keep available.
9. I don’t know what happens after death
It’s natural to fear the unknown. The afterlife is a highly debated unknown. There are theories, but no one knows for sure. I like to think the afterlife is something like the one in What Dreams May Come, but I don’t know. And in that depiction people who commit suicide continue in the depths of despair. I’d like to pick that part of the depiction and change it, but I don’t have that kind of power, and I have no way of knowing what waits for me. Sometimes it’s easier choosing the harder now than the frightening unknown.
10. I want to live to be 105
I know this is a strange one. But basically, if I live to be 105 I will have lived in 3 centuries and have memories in each. I’m aware this is unlikely, but why ruin my shot?
11. I want to see where the world goes
My grandpa is 94 and my grandma is 90. They often talk about how much the world has changed in their lifetime and memories. I want that opportunity. I want to see what technology is developed, where medicine goes, what the country lines are. I’m curious. I know the world isn’t looking too great at the moment, but I have faith it can change.
Look, I’m not saying we are gonna find Atlantis, I’m just saying a lot of the Ocean hasn’t been explored a bunch. And what about Space? What discoveries will I make about myself if I keep living? Maybe I’m secretly great at something I had no idea about. I wand to discover what it’s like to have a family. I want to see these discoveries to happen.
If I committed suicide there would be countless memories I’d miss out on. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, nights out, nights in, and even alone time. Some will be bad, and some will be good. But the good times are worth the bad.