As you’ve probably seen via social media, the miniseries 13 Reasons Why has brought about quite a controversy. What struck me the most were the memes being shared that mocked Hannah’s decision to make tapes for the people who she claims contributed to her decision to kill herself.
Not only is this distasteful, but it is also extremely hurtful to people who experience suicidality, survivors of suicide loss, survivors of suicide attempts, and basically everyone else as well.
It’s even harmful to bullies and abusers because it justifies their actions and makes light of their harmful behaviors. This perpetuates ignorance and it allows for further bullying, continuing a vicious and detrimental cycle.
There are many reasons why a person attempts to kill themselves and there are many reasons why it is a growing epidemic, especially among youth. One of these reasons being that suicide is considered by many to be a taboo topic. This often causes shame and unawareness for those struggling and for the people in their lives. Below are 13 reasons why suicide needs to be taken more seriously.
1. Jokes about suicide trigger feelings of invalidation and shame, which make the suicidal thoughts even worse.
2. Mocking suicidality alienates people who are struggling with it, further inducing loneliness and hopelessness.
3. Mental health issues are more common than most think. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer with mental illness each year.
4. Bullying is a serious matter that is too often handled poorly, repercussions are rarely enforced. This can cause a victim to feel unsupported and stuck, feelings that are common among suicidal youth.
5. The more taboo suicide becomes, the more unaware and uneducated society is about it. Perhaps if it were spoken about directly and openly, people with suicidal thoughts might feel less isolated and misunderstood.
6. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
7. Saying “commit” suicide is accusatory and misleading, yet it is so frequently said. People who struggle with suicidality need help and acceptance, not more shame and guilt.
8. There is a misconception that people who attempt suicide are “just seeking attention” which is definitely false. If someone is suicidal, they are in need of help not judgment.
9. Suicide CAN be prevented! There are hotlines and crisis lines that are dedicated to helping those who are struggling. The problem is that there isn’t much awareness in this regard, causing those in need of help AND their loved ones to feel stuck and helpless.
10. The stigma associated with mental illness and suicide speaks so many lies, brainwashing our society into thinking completely false ideas which is damaging to everyone.
11. If suicide were taken more seriously, perhaps more drastic measures would take place and prevention would be taught and learned well and thoroughly.
12. If mental illnesses were treated with the same care and attention as other illnesses, treatments would be more available and up to date.
13. Making light of suicide is incredibly insensitive. If people were more knowledgeable and respectful, perhaps triggers could be avoided and lives could be saved.
This list could go on and on. I think the most important message of this article is that suicide CAN be prevented. Also, there are so many other topics that are appropriate to joke about, suicide is not laughable. Let’s work together to erase the stigma and save lives! Recovery and happiness is indeed possible for everyone.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please seek help. You are worthy of life and peace of mind. Please contact crisis text line by texting “home” to the number 741-741 if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts. If you are in danger or need medical attention please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Remember, you are not alone.