By: Paola L
It seems as though the spotlight has descended upon the topic of teen suicide as of late. In reality, I’m sure it is not a new trend. Our children have struggled for years with similar issues. Low self esteem, bullying, body image expectations and the like. But the question I keep asking myself is: why the sudden interest in this topic by the mainstream media?
The Netflix adaptation of the book 13 Reasons Why depicts a teenage girl who commits suicide. She records 13 cassette tapes and leaves them to be handed out to each individual person who has wronged her or contributed to her decision to take her life. The tapes are a narrative of the events that lead up to and include her fateful demise. The one thing that I took away from watching these episodes is a strikingly apparent theme throughout: that her suicide was everyone else’s fault. She describes some traumatic events that I in no way,shape or form, am trying to discount. It includes everything from sexual assault, to bullying, to unrequited love. There are many dynamics that are presented. But in the end I still couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of her pointing a finger at everyone around her. It sends a message of fear. Fear of saying or doing something to someone that may “push them over the edge”. Depicting people in her life as clueless and unable to discern the days leading up to her ill fated decision. While there may be circumstances that ring true in some situations, I don’t think it brought home the best perspective of why this happens and how to help.
Suicide can leave so many questions unanswered. A torrent of emotions and blame. But the one thing I do know is this: when suicide is contemplated it isn’t to escape reality. It’s to stop the pain. The self inflicted wounds of doubt and self loathing. The feelings of not being good enough or lovable. Leaving you in a seemingly endless abyss of darkness and lost hope. But the focus is almost always inward. Not a finger pointing, blame game. The outward people and circumstances contribute, but the true face of this terrible decision is essentially a lack of self love. We, as a society, have lost focus on taking heed to our own well being. We are inundated with distractions and busyness. Agendas, plans and high expectations. And how much more are our children struggling to keep up the pace? They are socially handicapped. Talking to screens. Texting intimate details. Trying to live up to a barrage of false expectations and keep their sanity in the process. No wonder some feel defeated. Unworthy. The messages that are being sent to them aren’t those of self love. They aren’t loving at all. In a world where I believe we are all connected, there is a distinct lack of connection. With others, and in particular, ourselves. We no longer know how to look in a mirror and be happy with the face looking back at us. To stop the negative self talk and actually praise our resourcefulness and kindness.
Our children are staring down the barrel of a future strewn with insecurity and fear. We need to instill in them the value of self love. To be who they are no matter what anyone else thinks or says. To band together and stop the insanity of trying to live up to an image that will never be attained. The tragedy here is that so many people are hurting. Some silently sitting alone in the moments before they end their life. Let this increased focus on teen suicide show us that we are in need of love. In our world, in our hearts and in our minds. The only way to stop the pain is through unconditional love. May we all aspire to become the love that is needed to change this world before it’s too late.