The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why has definitely caused some recent controversy. Some feel that the show encourages teens to think about suicide as a viable option to deal with their problems while others feel it spotlights the issues of youth suicide, bullying, and sexual assault which plague our society. What’s important is that the show has people talking, especially about the taboo subject of suicide and we’re overdue for this discussion.

There’s a stigma to suicide which is perpetuated by the silence surrounding it. We need to break this silence so those suffering will feel safe reaching out for help.

For those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide, here are 13 reasons you should choose to live:

  1. Clarify whether you really want to die or do you just want the emotional pain to stop? Most people find that they really don’t want to die, they just want their pain to end. Find a way out of your pain. Create a happy playlist or write a love letter to yourself. Some people may choose a playlist of sad/angry songs which helps them feel like there’s someone else out there feeling like they do. If that works to help you feel less alone, then that’s okay too.
  2. You may feel like you have nothing to live for, but sit down and make a list of everything you appreciate. You may begin to realize that there is more to your life than the pain you’re suffering. Here’s a link that will get you started:
  3. Think about how your death would affect others. Suicide wreaks havoc on others affected by it. Write down everyone who would be affected by your loss. Think about your partner, parents, siblings, grandparents, children, friends, colleagues, pets, etc. There will be people devastated by your loss. Do you really want to harm them? On the other hand, if you’re a teen whose being cyberbullied to kill yourself, ignore them and don’t let them win! You are stronger than you think. Tell an adult what’s happening so the bullying ends.
  4. You may be so blinded by your own misery that you cannot fathom anyone else’s. Seek out the stories of others who have overcome insurmountable things and how they got through it. Often, people are grateful for the struggles in their life because it’s what makes them stronger.
  5. “This too shall pass.” Your problems are just temporary and probably won’t be important in five years. Besides, you never know how your life may turn out. Many survivors of suicide are glad they didn’t succeed because they would have never met their future children or spouse. So just hold on because things will get better for you. Here is a list of celebrities who struggled with suicide and we’re glad they made it through.
  6. You may not want others to know that you are suicidal because you feel it’s a sign of weakness or you may be embarrassed — but reach out for help anyway because you are not alone. Don’t hide this part of yourself from those who love you; let them help you and tell you that they want you to stick around. If you are having trouble finding others to validate your pain, connect yourself with a suicide hotline for an empathetic ear:
  7. Allow yourself to laugh. Check out the puppy channel on YouTube or look up laughing baby videos. Whatever it is that makes you laugh, do it. There’s a reason why they say “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing can also instantly switch your mood and help you brighten your perspective which may make you feel more hopeful.
  8. Stop being your own worst enemy! Your self-deprecating thoughts are irrational and not true and you need to become a better friend to yourself. Would you tell a close friend that they are an idiot because they made a mistake? Probably not, so you need to be kinder to yourself in your thoughts and actions.
  9. Your life doesn’t have to feel empty; seek to fulfill yourself. Dig deeper into yourself to explore why you’re feeling so empty and numb inside. Are you too consumed by making other’s happy that you forgot about yourself? Or have you turned to addictions to avoid your feelings? Figure out what’s going on and then take steps to improve it. Check in with your higher power or explore spirituality as a means to shift your focus away from your emotional pain to something bigger than yourself.
  10. Don’t give up on yourself. Get up and fight! Every day is a new day to recreate yourself. Learn to be more resilient.
  11. Just because you’re feeling suicidal doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. Remember that problems are temporary but so are thoughts and feelings. When you find your brain perseverating on suicidal thoughts, shift your attention to something else like a new hobby such as painting or writing fan fiction. Your future self will thank you for it.
  12. If you kill yourself, you actually increase the odds that someone close to you will kill themselves too. Suicide contagion is real and here is the science behind it:
  13. The universe is in you. Seriously, the atoms that make up your body are the same that make up the stars in our galaxy. Every person, animal, plant and creature on earth are intricately connected right down to our atoms. You are not alone because you are truly connected to everything and everyone.

Hopefully at least one of these reasons will speak to you so you choose to live. Reach out for help and things will get better. You are worth it!

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or text “help me” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.