A man in the middle of answering a question. Text on the screen reads: He tried to kill himself, he must be weak.

In a video released by ABC TV on Wednesday, suicide attempt survivors answer questions people have, but would never dare ask in person. The video is part of a series called, “You Can’t Ask That,” a TV show based in Australia that asks personal and sometimes hilariously blunt questions to “misunderstood, judged or marginalized” groups of people, according to ABC’s site.

In the promo video posted on Facebook, suicide attempt survivors read out loud questions from the public. The questions shine light on the general misconceptions people have about those who try to take their lives – and their answers reveal some truth, putting a face on a misunderstood issue.

The full episode aired Wednesday night on ABC TV.

How would you answer these questions asked in the video? Tell us in the comments below.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.


Editor’s note: If you struggle with suicidal ideation or self-harm, or have experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click hereYou can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

The binge-worthy Netflix teenage drama, “13 Reasons Why” is sweeping social media feeds everywhere. Each time I see the title, “13 Reasons Why,” all I can think is that it could have been my story. Before you read any further, this article has spoilers. If you want to watch the show without me ruining the surprise, stop reading.

“13 Reasons Why” tells the story of Hannah, a teenage girl who dies by suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes, each one describing a different person who contributed to the events leading to her suicide and why.

It was existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who said, “Hell is other people,” which highlights the difficulty of the human condition, highlighting how each person can be the torturer of another, by subjecting them to judgment and alienation. This, in essence, is what “13 Reasons Why” is about — and what my story is about, too.

Like many major life events, I still remember my first day of middle school.

The summer between fifth and sixth grade, in the midst of AOL instant messaging (our main internet activity at the time) and chasing each other around the pool, the girls blossomed into young women and the boys started to slowly become men. More importantly though, where I lived, two elementary schools merged into one middle school. I was filled with exhilaration upon meeting all the new girls (potential best friends?) and new boys (potential love interests?).

The end of the first day of sixth grade, I opened a crumbled piece of paper by a new boy— — the most popular jock from the “other school.” In scribbled handwriting, was a short, simple message. “You have a nice ass,” and his AOL instant messenger name.

Outwardly, Hannah didn’t appear to have the “warning signs” we may be accustomed to seeing in someone who struggles with depression. For Hannah, each event or mistreatment was like a spark igniting a fire, slow at first, and then before she knew it, she was engulfed.

In the second episode, it’s revealed Hannah earned a spot on Alex’s “Hot List,” under “Best Ass.”

As time went on, I struggled to find my place in the social hierarchy of middle school. I’ve always “walked to the beat of my own drum,” but in middle school, I might as well been playing a different instrument entirely. I managed to find a tiny group of friendswe liked the same kind of punk or metal, liked wearing black, sarcasm and hating everyone else. I felt like I fit somewhere for a minute.

In between college-ruled binder papers of pre-algebra and creative writing, I struggled with my sexualityas many teens do. I wanted to explore the feelings and urges, but like Hannah did, I often found myself the target of objectification by boys and “slut-shaming” by girls.

One afternoon after school, on a warm, early spring afternoon, I remember a group of boys gathered their lunch money and asked me if I would show them my boobs. I said I wouldn’t take their money, but showed them my boobs anyway. The rush of attention and male gaze felt exhilarating, but  then I went home, cried, found a razor blade I hid in my sock drawer and self-harmed. I had no idea how to express what I was feeling. I didn’t have the words or the self-awareness to realize I was being objectified and didn’t like it.

The next day at school, a small group of “popular girls” whispered about me. Girls were worried I’d steal their boyfriends, girls called me a “whore.” The rumors were true, but I had no idea how to cope with the backlash I received from girls I thought were my friends. How are young girls supposed to handle their blooming hormones and sexuality with cyberbulling and sexting?

I was proud of my body, but it felt like a curse.

And then seventh grade happened. One night in October, I went over to my friends house to work on a project. Two boys also came to work on the project with usone was the aforementioned jock, who had spent the last few weeks aggressively flirting with me over instant messaging, but wouldn’t look in my direction at school. They brought a joint with them. I had never smoked pot before. I took one hit.

What happened next is a blur. It’s common for sexual assault survivors to dissociate, much like Hannah Baker did in episode 12. I was not raped, but I can’t tell you the details, even to this day. I remember the door locking and the blue glow of early autumn dusk. I remember my friend pounding on the doorbegging them to open it. I remember not being able to talk or move. I was frozen.

The coming weeks were a struggle of sanity. I couldn’t focus, my body and my mind felt detached and then I started having panic attacks. Then one day in P.E., another girl asked me if that boy had ever done anything to me I didn’t agree to.

The two boys had done similar things to a few girls, who had come forward and accused them. This was the first time I realized people don’t usually believe girlsit seems like it’s always our fault. I didn’t want to believe it happened to other girls either, but I knew it did, because it happened to me.

In Hannah’s story, everyone wants to protect the popular football player rapist. Her guidance counselor blames her for being raped because she never said “no.”

One afternoon, I sat in the principal’s office with the sheriff of my small East Bay town. He accused me of smoking pot, saying I couldn’t have possibly been assaulted because I was under the influence. Because I couldn’t provide specific details to the sheriff that day, they told me I had no way to prove anything.

I thought the worst was over,  until everyone found out details of the accusations against two of the most popular boys in our grade and started accusing me of being a liar. I was helpless, an isolated target dressed in all black.

How does a mentally fragile teenage girl with an affinity for self-harm handle a large portion of her peers calling her a “slut” and a “liar”? By self-destructing and cutting, obviously. I distanced myself from every friend I had, and asked my mom to excuse me from most of my classes. I sat in the school psychologist’s office most afternoons. I was having panic attacks almost every day. Weeks later, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Hannah dealt with slut-shaming, bullying and assault. I dealt with it by escaping.  I transferred schools in ninth grade. By not confronting the rumors and stigmas, I may have tarnished my reputation, but I saved my life.

Watching “13 Reasons Why” showed me I could have been Hannah Baker too. I could have ended my life. I know I thought about it a lot.

Suicidal depression is rarely caused just by people treating another person badly.  It’s usually in conjunction with biological factors.

Today, I still struggle with the after effects of sexual assault, bullying and slut-shaming, even 15 years later. But I am so happy I chose to survive, that I chose life instead. For a while, it was hard to imagine I could ever get beyond the demons in my head, and sometimes it still is. These kinds of traumas can cause things like PTSD and even change our brains.

“13 Reasons Why” is also meant to show how horrible teenagers can be to one another, but what this showed me is we still treat each other like this as adults. In the mediaeven from our own presidentwe see slut-shaming, violence against women and victim blaming. We reward “boys behaving badly,” especially when they are rich and white.

The rape culture we live in is real. Our own president muttered the words “Grab ’em by the pussy,” with no repercussions. Many teenage boys receive their sexual education from porn. I’m inclined to believe part of the reason we have such a hard time believing victims and punishing assault is that we, as a culture, don’t understand what sexual assault really is. If we as a society are only taught about relationships and sex from pornwhich rarely ever portrays any form of consenteveryone loses. Young people who watch porn can be taught sex is theirs for the taking.

In “13 Reasons Why,” Bryce — the popular white male jock — proclaims, “Oh please, if that’s rape, then like you know all the girls on campus are asking me to rape them.” In the series he rapes an unconscious Jessica and later, Hannah. He doesn’t even understand what he’s doing is wrong.

“13 Reasons Why” is meant to be a lesson in compassion and communication to people we may not realize are struggling — which is actually all of us, but some, more than others. I want to believe “13 Reasons Why” ends up being a definitive piece of sexual assault, suicide and bullying prevention.

Sometimes, “I believe you,” are three of the most important words anyone can hear.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Screenshot via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page trailer. 

Two weekends ago, I binged-watched “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, knowing I probably shouldn’t. I read the book a few years ago and didn’t need to see it on a screen to understand the pain and trauma, as suicide has impacted my life personally. I lost my dad when I was eight years old and I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. To be honest, by the time I got to the end of the last episode, I felt the trauma again. I felt empty. It was graphic, but every time I tried to look away, my eyes never moved. It brought up painful feelings and hurt. It’s a fictional television show, but for many, including me, it’s a reality. That’s what I feel as though has gotten lost in the tornado of success the show has had. Suicide shouldn’t be glamorized. Pain shouldn’t be glamorized. Mental illness shouldn’t be glamorized. It’s the reality of millions of people.

Though I’m glad the show has started the conversation, I’m sad it’s taken something fictional to start a conversation, to talk about things that are taboo and tough, but need to be shared. It shouldn’t take a show for people to realize we need to be kind, that we need to treat others with respect and compassion.

It’s the little things that matter most. When you ask someone how they’re doing, do you mean it? Is it just a conversation filler? Do you really care? Those three words could change someone’s day and life. When you start with kindness and compassion, things change. When people realize you’re reaching out because you care, things can change. We live in a dismal world where it’s particularly easy to get caught up in the materialism, the cynicism and pure hatred. It’s all around us. The news, social media, society, etc.  But it’s also easy not to. The difference between you and I, between us and any person in the world should bring us together, not tear us apart. When we lead with curiosity and acceptance, the world becomes a kinder place. I’m not sure how to get there, but it starts with you and I — it shouldn’t start with a television show.

Without a doubt, “13 Reasons Why” has facilitated a conversation about suicide, mental health and bullying, but why has it taken this long? The painful reality is there’s so much ignorance around suicide and mental health. Many don’t understand — or choose not to understand — that like other body parts, our brains can also break down, can also be sick. Invisible illnesses that very much ravage the bodies and minds of millions of people every second of every day. Similarly, many don’t understand suicide isn’t cowardly or makes a person “weak.” Some people literally get to a point where they cannot withstand their pain, the illness in their head. We have to get people the help they need when they need it. We have to be kind and empathetic. We have to talk about it, to let people know they’re not alone.

This is not a shot against “13 Reasons Why,” by any means. If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it. The beautiful thing is we have a choice. Regardless of whether you watch it or not, I hope more people can start choosing kindness in this tough world and start choosing compassion instead of hate. A television shouldn’t have to teach anyone this. We should already know this.

We never know the pain another human is going through. Visible or invisible, pain is real, mental illness is real, suicide is real and it takes more than a successful television show to raise awareness.

I am loved more than I may know. You are loved more than you may know. Start with kindness and end with kindness. Be open-minded. Have compassion. Be understanding.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page.

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

On March 20, 2013, I lost my precious younger brother to suicide. He was only 25 years old, and had a lovely 2-year-old daughter. Needless to say, this has been a devastating experience for our family. I miss my brother terribly, and there is an endless void. That being said, however, our family is not without hope.

Being a person with bipolar disorder, the death of my brother to suicide opens up fears for my own safety as well. It is well known that there is a higher incidence of suicide in persons with bipolar disorder than in the general population. Add to that the statistical fact that family members of suicide victims have a higher risk as well. To top it off, include my own history of some bouts with severe depression and suicidal thoughts, and you can see how this would be a legitimate fear.

So, how does one with bipolar disorder and a family history of suicide cope? How do we assure the statistics will not represent us? How do we find hope, and optimism, in the face of such bleak statistics?

My first measure for coping has been to pour myself into organizations and volunteer efforts that support suicide prevention. I have become a Field Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and I worked for two years on a fundraising effort for them through a local retail company. Doing this has been helpful, not only to try and save the lives of others, but to expose myself to resources, materials and messages that inspire hope and share coping methods.

My second way of coping has been to open up about my illness. As a nurse, I had been very secretive about my disorder prior to my brother’s death. Losing him caused me to re-evaluate my stance on the matter. It wasn’t enough just to think, “Someone out there with bipolar disorder, who is doing well, should open up about it so that others can have hope.” I now needed to be that person, not only for my own mental health (being open about it takes a weight off your shoulders), but in order to fulfill the mission to be a beacon of hope for others with various and sundry emotional conditions. Through doing so, I have had the honor and privilege of helping friends, loved ones and acquaintances find help and hope in the midst of various emotional crises. This has helped reinforce my resolve and commitment to stick around for others.

Lastly, I have taken to writing blog posts on my personal blog site, as well as poetry, that focuses on mental health, emotional issues and hope. This has helped immensely in terms of coping with my brother’s death and my own disorder. I highly recommend the healing power of poetry.

Speaking of which, I have added a poem I wrote that helps me when I am feeling down. It reminds me of a bright sunny day that is on the horizon. No matter how you feel, what you have done or where you have been, there is always, always, hope.

When Darkness Descends

When darkness descends

On your soul and your heart

When the pitch-black angst

Makes all you know dark

When the wind in your spirit

Howls at the moon

When the stress is so potent

You feel you could swoon

When the panic sets in

And you know not where you’ll go

And the vultures and demons

They torture you so….

There’s a train that leaves the station

Just before dawn

With the Angels and the Saints

Who will come to lead you on

From the tracks full of darkness

Through the tunnel you will go

If you look real closely

A light will surely glow

It radiates beams

Through the harrowing night

Though it may not be a spotlight

It still comes to your sight

And you follow and follow

Steered by faith, not just your eyes

The train it is a comin’

Angels and Saints, they never lie

They are coming to carry you

Through the wind and the storm

Their wings will protect you

And their hearts will keep you warm

I see it, I see now

It’s finally near

They come and they greet me

Their song of joy I hear

The darkness behind me

Cannot keep it away

The Angels and Saints

Bring a new sunny day

God’s train it is a comin’

Keep your eyes upon the Lord

His love it will a-find you

Keep the faith,

You shall endure

In loving memory of Joey Blanton-Harris, my brother and friend.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Ethan Robertson

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

The much awaited and anticipated Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is finally here, and boy has it experienced some backlash. Based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher, the show was released March 31st. The show follows Clay, who is trying to recover from his friend Hannah’s suicide. Hannah leaves behind 13 tapes for people to listen to and relives the harrowing events leading up to her death.

I know what everyone is thinking. It’s just a show right? Why is everyone going on about it? Why is this show all that people are talking about? It is just a show, yes. But it is a show of utter importance in today’s society. It’s a show people needed to break down the barriers around taboo issues people are sweeping under the carpet. People have been waiting years for something like this to happen. I want to cover why we shouldn’t be ignoring the main message this show is providing.

This show is trying to raise awareness about suicide in teens. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, and we still have little to no resources to cover the topic and educate the masses. In many high schools, suicide is barely even mumbled in a classroom session. Throughout the show, you can see the school only takes action after the death has occurred. Many are complaining how it didn’t show how to prevent the suicide. I believe they didn’t show it because the characters didn’t know any better beforehand. It was only afterwards that they began to take action. The series shows how suicide should be spoken about on all occasions, not just after a death has occurred.

Bullying and rape are the other main topics shown throughout the show. The show is trying to make us think about how our actions have consequences. No one on the show was taking any accountability for their actions and most had a victim mentality. Characters seemed to believe Hannah was the issue, even though Hannah had taken her own life. Hannah was the “crazy bitch.” No one was coming forward until the very end when everything was beyond their own control.

The characters tried so hard to control the situation instead of being honest to everyone around them. The series showed honesty is the best policy as it allows closure (for example when Clay went to Jeff’s parents house and told the truth). You can see in this scene how content they were in knowing they finally got some closure on their son’s death. This scene shows a valuable life lesson about how far the truth can go. It shows taking responsibility for our own part in situations can allow others to heal in the process. I can safely say everyone’s actions in the series had repercussions and made Hannah feel so overwhelmed to the point she didn’t want to live anymore. This, sadly, also happens in real life.

Bringing rape to light was huge in so many ways as well. We live in a society where women (and men) are afraid to come forward when rape is presented. So many girls have a mentality of it being their fault, fearing no one will believe them, no justice will be served and they were “asking for it.” The show portrays how this topic is still ignored. In the show, Hannah tried to speak out about it, only to be told to “move on” from the event. Rape is traumatizing, violating and there is no excuse for it, even though we live in a society that sometimes seems to try to justify it.

We follow Hannah’s journey right to the end. Due to the bullying, it has left her feeling so isolated. This happens in reality and sometimes people can feel so alone that they resort to taking their own lives. If Hannah felt like she had another choice in the time leading up to her death, I believe she would have taken it. This is where people are missing the message. This is how a suicide happens in real life. I believe the show captures the reality of it perfectly. I understand the end scene was distressing, and as someone who has tried to hurt herself, the scene surfaced a lot of issues for me. But I found comfort in knowing they realistically bought that scene to life. I believe it was necessary in some ways to make viewers uncomfortable watching it. I believe uncomfortable feelings are a doorway for growth. Not glamorizing Hannah’s suicide was a big statement in itself. I believe this is the reality of a suicide.

A someone who battles on the daily with suicidal thoughts and is a suicide attempt survivor, I am comforted in knowing suicide has finally been brought into the mainstream. Mainstream as in a way it is being normalized and captured for what it really is. It may be a just a show to some, but to me, this is a gateway of hope and relief. It gives me the bravery to confront issues head on and speak out, rather than ignore them as they eat away at me internally.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page.

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I desperately tried to avoid the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” I told those who asked what I thought of the series that I hadn’t watched it yet because I felt it might be too triggering for me. I was lying to both them and myself. I recently made several posts on social media explaining my reasoning for disliking a series I hadn’t watched yet and I reposted articles I felt voiced some of my concerns with “13 Reasons Why.”

One of my Instagram followers messaged me regarding one of these posts. Through explaining to me why the series helped voice how she felt about people from her past and her past suicide attempt, she began opening my eyes to what I was doing and why I was feeling so defensive about this topic. Following this realization, I watched the whole series. And it was incredibly eye-opening.The truth is when I was seventeen (the age Hannah Baker killed herself), I felt very similarly to her. In high school, I felt ostracized, violated, sad and angry. I felt so alone. I often internalized my emotions, but there were notable times I lashed out by saying hurtful things. And there were moments I thought, “If only I could show them how much this hurts.” And that scares me. It scares me because I felt that way before and I never want to feel that way again.I remember being so wrapped up in my own hurt that it was so difficult to look beyond myself. I was so selfish and mean at times. Even though it has been five years since then and I have healed a lot from those experiences, it is still so shameful for me to look back and remember how out of control I felt. I want to confront this fear I am feeling through this writing because the topic relates to the series “13 Reasons Why.” So here goes.

I have empathy for Hannah Baker. But I don’t always have empathy for myself in regard to this topic. So, I am going to challenge my shame and say, “17-year-old Lexie, you are not a bad person for feeling angry and wanting justice for the bad things said and done to you. You are a teenager. Your brain isn’t even finished developing yet. You are not a bad person. You are struggling and hurting badly. It is OK to acknowledge others have hurt you, but please try to remember that while things going on around you at home and school are wrong, two wrongs don’t make a right. Keep trying to focus on bettering yourself. One day you will be free from this environment.”

Lastly, I would like to say while I am aware “13 Reasons Why” can be misleading or confusing or triggering in some respects, it is one story and is not claiming to perfectly convey everyone’s struggles. And while I disagreed with the “revenge” aspect Hannah acted on, I see power in this story. I am so glad this story in particular can resonate with others. While other aspects – such as showing her very graphic suicide – may be detrimental to others, I appreciate the trigger warning at the start of the episode. And I truly appreciate how this story was portrayed. It was very realistic and I think there is some good in that. If the story was watered down, would viewers who have no experience with suicidal thoughts be moved by it? I personally don’t think so.

Though this series was absolutely heart-wrenching for me to watch, I am glad I challenged myself to look beyond my preconceived notions of what the show would look like and look beyond my own experiences. And though the topic may be difficult to discuss, “13 Reasons Why” is undeniably powerful. We need to start discussing heavier topics like suicide. There are countless people hurting right now and even with the backlash, I feel relieved to know the message and story are helping people.

I would also like to say although her feelings were valid, Hannah Baker did have the option to reach out for help. Maybe reaching out and telling someone wouldn’t have made a difference for her, but I would like to emphasize though this character’s trauma and hurt led her to plan to hurt herself, there is still hope. “13 Reasons Why” is a work of fiction. So, if you are struggling, there is hope for you. This series outlines “A+B = C,” but nothing is set in stone for your life or anyone else’s. The beauty of life is that we never know what lies ahead of us.

If you are hurting, please reach out for help. Life may be tough right now, but you sometimes you have to give it time to get better. Your life is precious and you deserve to take up space. Time can heal your pain. So, hang on for your future. Hang on for your goals and dreams. Hang on for those who love and care about you. Hang on for tomorrow’s sunrise. Just hang on. Even if you feel so distant or beyond help, I promise you are worth saving.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook.

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