I wasn’t planning on it. But after a surge of stories on several news outlets and a letter that came home from the Superintendent it was time. I dreaded it. I was angry. The world is spinning out of control.
I was sick to watch them. But I had to know why before my kids did. Even at such a young age they are exposed to so much, ask so much. And I vowed to be that parent that would give them answers so that they wouldn’t go to someone else for them.
Watching them was not a good idea; not for me or you or anyone. There is no art in suicide or rape or bullying. We don’t want to talk about it so we make movies about it and call it “necessary to start the conversation.” But it’s not necessary, it’s downright evil. The more we open ourselves to the sin and the lies of the world, the more we say yes, the more we ignore, the more we stay silent, we become just like them.
The “fictional” plot centers around a teenager who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes that detail the 13 reasons why she did it. The tapes are cute and painted with nail polish in a lovely, flowery shoe box. And the 13 part series goes on to tell the story of her demise.
I am not sure this may be the best time to write this as I am still digesting its contents. But being that it’s on my mind and that it has affected so many people, I figured we should talk about it. It was hard to watch because, well it could have been me. Not that anyone would have cared, or noticed. In high school, most of the girls were more concerned about their hair than noticing someone right next to them who was deteriorating.
We like to write about things, create things but not talk about them. Why can’t we talk about them? Because these conversations are uncomfortable. Who wants to hear about sexual abuse? It’s way too serious for the teenage years. I told and nobody believed me. I held that secret for almost twenty years.
It is irresponsible and self-preserving to create a series that could and will conjure up whimsical fantasies of how you can get people back after you die by exposing their secrets. The story is told from the other side. But in real life, the person is just dead.
I’m not glad that I watched it, I’m angry. I’m angry that people are cruel and we don’t talk to each other about the things that need to be talked about. It’s why I became a children’s attorney.
Kids don’t need to watch tv shows about how to off themselves. They need parents who will listen and nudge and keep nudging until the truth comes out. They need involved parents. They need parents that won’t give up. It is basic human nature to need people close to us. And although we cannot prevent every suicide, we can at least know the warning signs and try to intervene.
But suicide doesn’t just affect teenagers. It affects those teenagers who grow up to be adults. Like the night I got a knock on the door about my next door neighbor who was found dead in his car. See, the details aren’t important. Ya, I wish that I knew. I wish I could have been that person who could have helped him. We all have regrets.
I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to a culture of relationship, of kindness or basic human decency. Maybe I don’t know that we ever were. But what I do know is that without God, this culture is dying a slow and painful death. If only they would turn around and run to the light…
If you get the opportunity, don’t watch it. I’ll tell you all about it instead. Or maybe start noticing the people who come in and out of your life with half smiles and an uneven step. That’s a movement towards doing something about the problem rather than sitting on the sidelines.