13 Reasons Why to Live

Sometimes depression doesn't let us see the beauty of life.

Posted May 30, 2017 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

© Can Stock Photo / ikophotos
Source: © Can Stock Photo / ikophotos

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on a book by Jay Asher. It centers around a girl in high school who kills herself after feeling discouraged and hurt by traumatic circumstances. The story is fictional—but teen suicide is, regrettably, a reality faced by many.

Hannah Baker, the show's protagonist, details why she is going to take her life and who is "responsible" for her misery. She names 12 people she blames for her pain—be it for bullying, driving under the influence, rape, or other traumas. Finally, she ends her life (portrayed in a manner that has been criticized for being overly descriptive and suggestive to the viewing audience).

This series has become very popular. Some wonder, however, if it has glamorized the concept of suicide and whether it may be contributing to increased rates of teen suicide. The majority of youth confront the idea of death and, at some point or another, fantasize about how they will die. In most cases, however, the fantasy of committing suicide ends there, often with an understanding that life is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

Still, the statistics are overwhelming. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's also thought that at least 25 suicide attempts are made for every completed teen suicide. The risk of suicide increases dramatically when kids and teens have access to firearms at home, and nearly 60 percent of all suicides in the United States are committed with a gun.  

This is cause for reflection. It should make us wonder what factors could lead a young person to feel so overwhelmed by life that they'd rather end it. We understand that there are many reasons to feel that life has no meaning—among them, not being able to compete in a society that insists on constant productivity, not meeting personal expectations, or not meeting the expectations of parents to be successful. (It is important, however, to remember that “success” is relative.) Other times, we may feel disconnected from family, friends, or from society at large. We may also be experiencing a phase of fatalism, a sense of not belonging or of being invisible.

While it's a well-known fact that many youth flirt with the idea of committing suicide, adults hesitate to speak about the problem openly. And the adults themselves aren't immune: Like teens, many adults contemplate suicide when feeling hopeless. 

© Can Stock Photo / dolgachov
Source: © Can Stock Photo / dolgachov

Since Hannah could not find her own reasons, I'll leave you with my "13 Reasons Why...to Live."

  1. Life is an invitation to learn. We can learn something from every moment, good or bad. 
  2. Life is not static; it's in constant movement, much like the waves of the ocean. Each wave that comes brings with it new experiences, and each one is different. Just as the bad waves can sometimes show no mercy, the good ones come along and refresh us. Nothing lasts forever.
  3. Life is a gift; some people depart too soon and don’t have the fortune to know life. Those who have it should enjoy it.
  4. Our lives are not only our own. They also belong to those who surround us. We should take care of ourselves because we are important to others—even though we sometimes forget it.
  5. Each new day is a new experience. If we don't live it, we won't know what we’re missing.
  6. We are the designers of our life. It is our challenge to find beauty, even—and especially—when the opposite occurs. Finding beauty in the world is possible and brings countless rewards.
  7. We all live through experiences that leave scars. However, there is always someone to give us a hand during those difficult times. The important thing is to accept that help.
  8. Making an effort to deal with problems can make us aware of how strong we really are. Life's challenges don't exist only to upset us—they exist so that we understand ourselves better and get to know who we really are. 
  9. To live is to discover something about ourselves of which we were not aware. 
  10. To live is to look at ourselves in the mirror and discover a message of love in our own eyes.
  11. To live is to allow ourselves to fall in love—with someone, with something, or with life itself. 
  12. Viewing death as a source of meaning can be comforting for many—but rather than using this as an argument in favor of suicide, it's critical to leverage such a perspective in order to make the most of life while it lasts.
  13. Death is waiting for each of us anyway; why call on it before our time?

Sometimes, depression does not let us see the beauty of life. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).