My sister was scrolling through her Instagram feed one day, and told me she’s been coming across several posts from a new Netflix series titled “13 reasons why”. As usual, I was curious to know 13 reasons why…why what exactly? The title seemed incomplete to me. My sister eventually got the movie, a season of thirteen episodes tallying with the title.
I saw the movie immediately and I was hooked from the very beginning. So the movie is about thirteen reasons why a girl named Hannah Baker who suffered from depression decided to commit suicide, and each episode showed how different factors had piled up before she decided to end it all. Trust me, I’m not giving you any spoilers of the movie if you haven’t seen it yet. It was a truly poignant movie and it is basically about how we humans treat one another and how our own actions can be one of the causes to make someone take their own life. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, I’ll implore you to do so. Who knows, some of the actions they have done might relate to what we do to someone.
Suicide is defined as the act of intentionally causing one’s own death with risk factors being mostly mental disorders. The thing most people do not understand is that people who commit suicide do not actually want to die, they just really want their pain to end. Often times, consciously or unconsciously, victims of suicide do leave signs beforehand, like in the popular Grimm’s fairytale of Hansel and Gretel leaving pebbles on the ground as a trial to show their return path back home.
Truth is, most of us turn a blind eye either knowingly or unknowingly to most of these signs. Someone dear to us is changing and becoming more distant and quiet and most times we let them be, and some of us even go as far judging them for being that way without even knowing the cause. Even if we all ask the question ‘how are you?’ and they reply with ‘I’m fine’, we do not press forward to know what the problem is even when we know something is definitely wrong with them. It gets hard sometimes, because such a person tends to push people away when internally they are screaming for help. They believe no one can actually understand them, and as most people like to do, compare their problems with theirs and turn their pain insignificant. All they need is your listening ears, and that is not too much to ask from you.
I’d like to bring forth something I read just recently from a book in a App called Wattpad. There was a particular character there who was suicidal, and the person showed some signs in his behavioral pattern that was evident that he needed help. Signs like flunking in classes, aggression and anger, wore black outfits, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and so on until he killed himself. Hannah Baker of 13 Reasons Why did leave signs in her writing and in her words, yet no one took her seriously, until she took her own life.
Once, I was talking with a friend online who was complaining about my suicide awareness posts being too much. My friend shared with me his thoughts on suicide, about how he felt it was a cowardly escape from life’s problems and blamed it as a result of being mentally weak. Now I strongly oppose to his opinions, but to be honest, a lot of people share similar mentalities on suicide. They say things like ” Everyone’s got problems, so why do you have to end your life?”. True, everyone has problems that vary, but what people do not know is that everyone has got different coping resources as well. The ability to bear pain differs from one person to another, and when the pain exceeds the coping resources, there is a high chance of the person ending up committing suicide.
Do you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide? A famous Youtuber, Logan Paul, posted a video titled: ” Suicide, be here tomorrow. ” He interviewed a suicide survivor, Kevin Hines, who narrated his story about dealing with depression and bipolar disorder, and told us about the instant regret he felt the moment he jumped off the Golden Gate bridge. He said in that state of freefall before he hit the cold water, all his depression wiped off from his head and he begged God that he did not actually want to die. He was convinced that no one actually cared for him, no one actually wanted him around. Now, his story is an inspiration to many others and he talks about how things will eventually get better no matter what you are going through.
People who commit suicide do not do so out of some selfish reason or die a cowardly death, they had simply been strong for too long. I’m not in any way condoning suicide, I’m trying to make people understand why some people see it as a way out. Typical signs people show are withdrawal, focus on death, some post some messages hidden between lines, despair, mood swings, self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and so on. Do not tell a guy to man up and face his problems, nor tell anyone insensitively to move on and face life with all its challenges, that is not a way to help them, you’d only make them bottle everything up and the problem would eventually get worse.
So the next time you ask the question ‘How are you?’ to that person who you think has been acting strange lately, and you get the same response ‘I’m fine’, don’t just leave it there, press forward to know exactly what is wrong, you might just be saving a life. The next time you notice someone leaving a ‘trail of pebbles’, follow the path and bring the person ‘back home’. There was a time I posted a message on social media to remind people of how much we wanted them around, I received a message from a lady who told me how much she needed to hear that. Spread kind words, remind people out there that even if they feel no one cares enough, a little message to the world can save a soul. The suicide survivor, Kevin Hines, said one sentence could have stopped him from jumping.
To those out there who are thinking of ending it all, I’d like to share a piece I read with you. It is written by Kirkup and it says ” The sad thing is suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else.”. Seek help, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I promise, good days are coming and this storm will pass.
You are worthy, your existence matters, and if no one has told you, you are super amazing.
-Written by Yousuph Sarah Olanike.