Having just binge watched the whole series of “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, I got to thinking about the subject of suicide and wondered how this fitted in with my spirituality education.
It’s a very difficult subject to talk about, and my hat goes off to the makers of the series for bringing the topic into the open. If you haven’t heard about it, 13 Reasons Why, is the story of a teenager called Hannah who takes her own life, but before doing so, makes a series of audio recordings on cassette tape explaining the 13 reasons why she did it. Each of the people identified in the recordings are given a copy of the tapes, passing them on to the next person, when they have finished. The story follows one particular character, Clay, as he works his way through each of the cassette tapes, revisiting each of the situations, an observer, as the story unfolds. It really is a riveting watch.
Now personally, I’ve never been in a situation, where I seriously thought about ending my own life, either as a teenager or adult. However many of the situations Hannah finds herself in are common experiences for many teenagers and adults, me included, such as bullying, disloyalty and betrayal by friends, rejection, mockery etc. However there are much more intense experiences that Hannah has to deal with, which I won’t go into, so not to spoil the series for you.
Suicide seems such an extreme and unfathomable action to take, and I do not wish to begin to lecture to anyone so hurt, that contemplating suicide seems like a viable option.
We can never truly understand what is going on in another persons mind. Even if we walked in their shoes, we might react differently. There is no right or wrong here. We are all different, and that’s a good thing.
Being unique in the way we look, think, talk, act, and dress makes the world such an interesting place. We should embrace our differences, while understanding that we have many things in common, even through such differences.
We all want to love and be loved, feel connected to others, because we are social creatures.
We all want to feel a sense of progress, of more, of better. We look to those ahead of us with some degree of envy. We base our standing and self worth, by comparing ourselves with others. We tend to focus more on those we perceive as ahead of us, and less so on those we perceive as behind us.
We form attachments to people, relationships, thoughts, status, attributes, affiliations, mental positions, possessions and just about anything that make us feel better, or more than we would otherwise feel we were. We can also attach to pain and negative things and feelings, if they somehow perversely add something to us in some way. Being a victim can become part of our sense of identity in the absence of something more positive. Becoming addicted to drugs for instance is thought to be partly down to a lack of healthy human bonding, so bonding with drugs is better than nothing.
The underlying INTENTION is to try to move away from pain and suffering and towards pleasure. We are all trying to do this, we are all the same as far as this is concerned. Bullies often bully because they are covering up pain in themselves. I’m not making excuses for bullying mind you, but a healthy, happy personality doesn’t try to hurt others. Lashing out comes from inner pain.
Suicide, in the same way is an attempt to escape pain. It is perceived by that person, as the best option to take, because maybe they feel so low, life offers nothing for them, or they feel under such attack by bullies, or have had their sense of themselves devalued to such an extent that there is no other way from their point of view.
Let me just say at this point, if you ever feel such pain, please ask for help, there are help lines available if you don’t feel you can approach anyone you know. Check out this website for further help www.supportline.org.uk. This is a section from their website
Suicide is very final – if you succeed in taking your life – there are no second chances and nobody really knows what will happen when they die. It may be difficult to take in at this moment in time but the feelings you have at the moment may be temporary – you may not always feel like this. There are people who have been in the exactly the same position as you and have somehow found the strength to come out of it and have gone on to find happiness and fulfilment in life and to be able to cope with life more easily – they have found alternatives to suicide and were glad that they did not take their own life. – supportline.org.uk
We are a mixed bag
While watching 13 Reasons Why, I noticed there were people in Hannah’s life who had great love and affection for her, but she was so consumed with the bad that the good didn’t seem to register with her. She had a distorted view of herself based on some of the meanness of others around her who were themselves in pain to some degree and for a variety of reasons. She wasn’t always a victim, sometimes she was a perpetrator, ignorant to how her actions affected others.
The underlying feeling that I came away with after watching the series, was a sense of sadness at such a waste of a life. Hannah was a beautiful pure spirit, and you wonder how she could have thought of herself any differently. We are all pure spirits underneath our pain, fears, even hatred.
We get caught up in our thoughts, thoughts about ourselves, of what others might think of us, how others have wronged us. We kick the cat, because someone kicked us, in an attempt to redress the balance, adding value to a sense of devaluation. We do these things, not because we are evil, but because of our own fear of pain.
Sometimes a simple gesture, an acknowledgement, time taken to care can make a disproportionate difference to someone else, and if we all did this, we would have less pain to fear.
If only …
If only we could prevent our self-worth being entangled with how we think others perceive and judge us.
If only we could go through life not consumed so much with fear of pain and suffering, and instead give attention to the moments of love and kindness we share.
If only we could love ourselves more, accept our imperfections as being what makes us uniquely us and give us a unique perspective of the world. After all we are the perfect versions of ourselves.
If only we could come to understand pain isn’t who we are, but a result of distorted thinking, which is blocking our light from shining through.
If only we could see we are connected and interconnected with everyone and everything and that each interaction has a knock on effect on everything else and trying to unpick the smallest thing would change so many more things, maybe everything.
We would understand how amazing we are and how much we can and do make a difference to the world we share and are an integral part of, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.