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13 Reasons Why Suicide Needs to Be Taken More Seriously

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As you’ve probably seen via social media, the series “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 suicidal ideation, survivors of suicide loss, survivors of suicide attempts and basically everyone else as well. There are many reasons why a person may attempt to kill him or herself and there are many reasons why it is a growing epidemic, especially among youth. One of these reasons being 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 can trigger feelings of invalidation and shame, which can make suicidal thoughts even worse.

2. Mocking suicidal ideation can alienate people who are struggling with it, further inducing loneliness and hopelessness.

3. Mental health issues are more common than most think. Nearly one in five Americans have a mental illness. Untreated mental illnesses can lead to suicide.

4. Bullying is a serious matter that is too often handled poorly and 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 in teenagers. 

7. Saying “commit” suicide is accusatory and misleading, yet it is so frequently said. People who struggle with suicidal feelings need help and acceptance, not more shame and guilt. We should say instead, “died by suicide.”

8. There is a misconception 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 there isn’t much awareness in this regard, and can cause 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, making a large part of our society believe completely false ideas that are 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 suicide can be prevented. Also, there are so many other topics that are appropriate to joke about — but suicide is not one of them. 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.

This post originally appeared on Thought Catalog.

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.

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Photo via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page.

Originally published: April 24, 2017
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