I just finished reading the 13 Reasons Why novel, and boy does it have me feeling a million different emotions at once It's been a long time since I've read a book that made me angry, sad, confused, and lost all in once. It was extremely well-written, and I feel that it grasped an important topic relevant to our society and absolutely nailed it while doing so. If you haven't heard of the book or the new Netflix series, then I am here to tell you that it is a must read/watch. It's disappointing to see that it took a new series on Netflix to get people talking about mental health again, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe it was the extra kick that our lazy society needed to start a conversation on the stigma.
This isn't a spoiler, but long story short a teenager commits suicide and the book/series goes through and shows what pushed her over the edge. I say this isn't a spoiler because it is not hidden in the book/series and is the underlying plot. The story follows along with her friend's adventure to uncover the underlying reason as to what essentially pushed her over the edge and made her do what she did.
I truly believe that everyone could benefit from reading 13 Reasons Why. It discusses a subject that we as society tend to tip toe around, and no one is benefiting by keeping quiet about it. It will make you question everything you've ever said to or about someone. That feeling of guilt you may have right now is important because you can learn from it. Take what you may have done or said in the past and use it as a learning experience. Know that words can be so detrimental to one's being. Don't just watch 13 Reasons Why because its what's "in." Watch it because you know that you will come out of it a better person, a person who questions what they have said or done and wants to be a better person because of it.
Suicide and mental health, to be more broad, is a touchy subject that many are too afraid to speak out about. It's a hard subject to comprehend, and many may be left wondering why people resort to the most drastic measure, ending their own life. People also tend to have questions about what exactly may push people over the edge, and come to think that it's only the "big" things in life that do so. What people fail to understand is that those who decide to end their life are mentally unstable and more than likely have had a snowball effect resulting in their decision, much like what happened with Hannah.
With the overbearing stress to be perfect and succeed in today's society, mental health needs to be talked about out loud more than ever. We as a society need to be comfortable talking about triggers, why it happens, and who we can turn to for help. It's one thing to post something for #BellLetsTalk once a year, but its another thing to truly be there when someone needs a helping hand. I don't think people in our society realize how big of an issue this is, and why we need to make a change NOW before it gets out of hand.
I take pride in the fact that my friends know they can trust me and come to me with whatever problems they're having in their lives, both big and small. Being a university student, I see too many of my friends and peers showing signs of mental health issues, and it truly makes me upset to see them go through whatever they're going through. There is such a stigma behind mental health, and until we are comfortable openly discussing it, its going to be hard to get rid of it. Especially in post-secondary, where you have to make so many life-changing decisions, it's hard to feel mentally stable and like you are doing the right thing. But we must ask ourselves, "What is the right thing?" "Is there even such thing as a right thing?"
I will fully disclaim that I am not an expert in mental health, but what I do know is that I am willing to talk out about it. I hope to start a conversation with peers that will one day allow us all to be comfortable talking about it.
So, today and everyday I invite you to engage in a conversation about mental health. Talk to your friends and ask them how they're truly doing. Let them know that you are there for them, and that you will always be there to listen. Realize that the words you choose to speak can have an everlasting impact on someone. Realize that your actions can have consequences, even though they seem like nothing. Don't brush anyone off when they're hurting, and always lend a helping hand. Do not be afraid to talk and let your true emotions come out. Together, we can make a difference and eliminate the stigma of mental health.