Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is a chilling look into why teens commit suicide. The show’s main character, Hannah, writes 13 letters to different people describing how they have hurt her and why each one is partly responsible for her final decision to take her life.
Probably the most jarring moment in the series is in the thirteenth segment. After Hannah had taken her life, her mother entered her room and saw her dead body. Her expression was one of agonizing shock and grief. Her daughter was gone. There was nothing she could do to intervene and help her. Her precious little girl’s life was finished. Over. Done.
Which leads to my ninth reason not to take your life. Here it is: There are people who love you and will greatly grieve your departure. Once you’re gone, you’re gone! Nothing else can be done to help you. No one can reach out to you to try and give you hope. Your decision is final.
But here is what is seldom realized: You will have only increased the pain of those who are left behind---especially those who love and care for you.
There are few people on the face of the earth who don’t have someone who cares for them. For Hannah, it was her mom, family, and friends. The program even suggests that one of her male friends wanted to be her boyfriend.
Hannah’s suicide unquestionably left a hole in all their souls. It always does for those left behind.
I remember talking once with someone who was thinking about taking her life. I suggested to her that she shouldn’t because of the number of people who truly cared for her. She didn’t think there were any. I gently nudged her to try and name a few. Hesitatingly, she named a couple of people. Interestingly, one of those mentioned by her was her mom.
There are few moms who don’t deeply care for their children. It’s a deeply embedded, maternal, and natural instinct. It’s abnormal for a mom not to love her child.
Then I tried another way to ward off her suicide threat. I reminded her that suicide was one of the most selfish acts possible.
There was a stony silence that ensued between us. Then, amazingly, she became angry toward me. She denied any selfishness in her contemplation of suicide. She countered, with increasing hostility, that it was mental illness that causes suicide, not selfishness.
Calmly, I asked her to explain to me how people with mental illness are able to polan their suicide with precision and write coherent notes. I asked her how a mentally and emotionally crippled person could plan, with careful deliberation, how they would die?
That’s exactly how Hannah acted in the final episode of 13 Reasons Why. She didn’t show any emotional duress or mental illness. She planned her suicide in specific detail.
My counselee had no answer. I had accomplished what I desired: I caused her to pause and think more cautiously about what she was planning to do.
I then restated the selfishness angle. I pointed out to her that once suicide is accomplished, I there is no other intervention. Life is over and finished. I encouraged her to think about what her mom would feel upon looking at her dead body. Though her pain was apparently alleviated, her mom’s anguish was just beginning. I asked her how others who cared for her would react when they learned of her suicide.
She began to cry. She realized suicide is selfish. It may alleviate her pain. But it leaves many others in a lifelong swath of grief. Most often, they continue to ask, “What did I do wrong? How could I have prevented it? Why didn’t I more carefully notice the symptoms of her grief and sadness?”
And they have to live with their own misgivings for the rest of their lives---their questions never answered. Their grief remains in a forever fog of what ifs and if onlys. The expression of angst and horror on Hannah’s mom’s face in the Netflix series proves my point.
Please, no matter what you are going through, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Seek Jesus’ love for you. He didn’t come to condemn you, but to love you (John 3:17). He came from heaven to earth to give you abundant life, not death (John 10:10).
Please don’t take your life. It’s a final and unalterable decision. It doesn’t offer your loved ones a chance to love you out of your despair. It leaves them in a wake of grief and sadness.
Indeed, it is a very selfish act.
And remember: It takes only one good and positive moment to give you hope. It takes only one word of love to give you a new perspective. It takes only one encouraging act to lift your spirits.
Find someone with whom to share your hurts. Maybe it’s a parent or a friend. Maybe it’s a minister. Go speak with a professional counselor. Trust me, there are many who want to help heal your hurts and give you hope.
Hang on. Fix your mind on faith. Focus your heart on hope. Just don’t give up.
Start with picturing in your mind how much your mom loves you. Start there. That should create some love and hope within you. Then imagine the faces of others who do care for you.
And believe God’s goodness and love is awaiting you every day of your life.
Therefore, choose life...
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV)