13 Reasons Why
How many reasons can there be responsible for someone’s death? How many events could have been foreshadowing the help someone needed? Did they show warning signs that could have indicated early on? Did anyone notice something was off but decided to stay silent? Did they reach out for help beforehand? Was there anything anyone could have done? Was there anything someone could have done differently? 13 reasons why shows a rare side of a very real situation that changes a person’s life forever. You get to see a behind the scenes visual of the thoughts and events that could lead up to the death of someone who completed suicide. You see grieving loved ones trying to piece together missing pieces on what happened. You see people starting to question what could have been done?
These are the questions that went around in my head when I was in the same position as Hannah Baker. I used to think about all the things that would happen after I was gone. Would people care? Would they come to my funeral? Would they notice another human life no longer existed next to them? And then I kept thinking, that could have been me.
I started writing this blog on 4/26/17, it is now 6/10/17. I decided to read the book and then watch an episode. Both hard to do straight through for me. Although some people have mixed decisions about this series, I am writing based off the things I can connect to and the feelings that have stirred up in doing so. I had to take a month off just to continue and finish the series. I am recovering from depression, having an eating disorder and being suicidal myself. To say this series is intense would be an understatement.
Old feelings quickly resurfaced within seconds of watching the first episode. For me, it was very raw and hard to watch (at least all the way through). I never completed suicide but there were many days when I thought about doing so. I would think about how I would do it and where. Thoughts would come into my mind about someone finding me and leaving that burden etched into their brain forever. Suicide is something you can’t take back. You can’t undo it. For someone to think about suicide and then to actually go through with it is a terrifying thought in itself. I know because I’ve been there.
Everyone gets sad from time to time but we usually bounce back and get back to our everyday lives. For people struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, the bounce back seems to never come. Think about how lost and broken a human must be in order to take their own life. You feel so helpless and think, “It could all be over; the pain, the tears, the hurt if I just leave”. For people who think suicide is a selfish option, to you it might be. To them, it’s the only way out. When someone thinks about suicide they think they are doing the world a favor but choosing to leave so they are no longer a burden to everyone they know, including themselves.
Many are speaking out about the negative effects this show is causing by showing it to younger kids and giving them ideas, but there are young kids who already have these ideas in their heads. This world has become a scary place to live in recently. Bullying has become a big issue in middle schools where children are around 12 years old. I see girls growing up knowing how to contour their faces and asking if they are fat at age 12. Twelve. I remember being that age and running around the backyard wearing no makeup and in whatever crazy style clothes I decided to wear that day. I was loud and just enjoyed the moments in my life. Then one day, everything started to change.
I was on the playground and was wearing my school uniform which was a skirt and high socks. One of the girls looked over at me and said, “Ew, Kelsey don’t you shave your legs. That is so gross. You are so hairy!” Guess who started shaving? I had someone ask me why I sometimes dressed as a boy. Guess who started wearing dresses? I once had someone say, “Why don’t you wear makeup and paint your nails? You’re a girl, aren’t you?” Guess who started painting her nails and learning how to put on makeup?
Now, it’s not that I didn’t like these things but growing up I was a tomboy. As I got older, I started to like dressing girly and doing my makesup but at a young age I was also forced into it because I didn’t want to be different. I spent most of my childhood dressing and acting how I wanted to and never thought that I was different or weird. BUT once I was told I was, my view on life changed forever.
What I have learned over the past five years is that THINGS CAN GET BETTER. I have spent 18 years struggling to wanting to take my own life. To now being happy and 5 years in recovery. I started allowing myself to feel any emotion that needed to be expressed. I allowed myself to cry and forced myself to work through the pain instead of hiding from it. I started to be honest with myself and open about how I was feeling. The more I was able to talk about it, the more I was able to stop letting it control me.
I had a hard time watching those 13 episodes and I think that was the point. We are finally starting to open up communication and talking about something that makes us uncomfortable and is hard to deal with. Thinking back on my life now, I can’t remember what was so bad that I considered no longer being here. It is hard to think back to that time because it feels like those memories aren’t mine. As if I was seeing those thoughts through someone else’s eyes.
I never completed suicide but I thought about it… a lot. I think in some ways, I was only bluffing and looking for someone to reach out and show they care, but not everyone thinks that way. We live in a world where although we have made huge strides in the mental health field, people still seem to be taking their lives more and more. Do I believe spreading awareness and speaking about topics such as suicide is going to stop suicides from happening all together? No, but I do believe it will tremendously decreases the chances of it happening. I believe that it will increase the chances of people reaching out and deciding to get help. I believe it will open communication between loved ones and slowly decrease the stigma and shame attached to its title. I believe that by erasing the stigma around suicide we are building a foundation for people to feel safe in accepting that it is okay not to be okay.