I’ll admit I have not seen the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. And I honestly have no interest in watching it. But because of friends and Facebook, I have an idea of what the show is about and the title alone caused me to want to write this post….
Suicide is real.
It is tragic.
And it affects every age, every race, every gender, and every profession.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with over 44,000 Americans taking their life every year. That’s about 120 suicides per day. Surprisingly, men are 3.5 times more likely to succeed at suicide than women. And while we tend to focus on teen suicide more than most, the highest rate of suicide is middle aged men, between the ages of 45 and 64.
There is no single “cause” of suicide. It is often the result of stressors in a person’s life, controlled or not, that leave a person unable to cope, and with little hope for the future. We can blame the negative environment of our culture, media, depression, anxiety, bullying, sadness, heartache, and regret. I have suffered from more than one of these and I have friends and family that have went through their fair share of valleys also. But the truth of the matter is we live in a fallen, broken world. And until our world is redeemed and restored of this fall, there will continue to be hurt, grief, aching, and darkness.
There was a time I lived in that deep darkness. One season in particular I had lost all hope. Enough to consider suicide.
Because I was so tired of fighting.
I was a sophomore in college. I was lonely and had suffered rejection after rejection it seemed in everything I did or tried to accomplish. I was far, well far enough, from my family, didn’t have a close community of friends, and was drifting further and further from Jesus. I felt I had no where to turn for relief and no hope to lean in to.
One night, my roommate was off campus, visiting her boyfriend. I was alone in our dorm room, waiting for a phone call I knew was never coming. I had been dating this guy for a few months. And I was much more into him than he was into me. As the seconds turned into minutes, and the minutes turned into hours, my heart sank lower and lower. Without anyone to talk to, I gave into the lies and the dark thoughts that invaded my mind.
No one loves you, and no one ever will.
You are worthless. No one needs you. And no one will miss you when you’re gone.
You fail at everything you do. You are a failure. You will never be more than a nobody.
You are alone. You will always be alone. Because no one could ever love someone like you.
I listened to these cruel, whispered lies for what seemed like hours.
Then I had enough.
My roommate had some medicine in her drawer. I didn’t even know what it was for exactly or what it was. But I reasoned that it wouldn’t matter because by taking it all it would probably do something to me that would either numb the pain or end it all.
Honestly I can say I never really considered what that meant. Or how permanent it would be. I didn’t think about the impact it would have on my friends and my family. Or even my future. My only thought, my obsession, was to stop the pain and the hollowness I felt inside. I was tired of feeling the darkness seeping through my heart and through my mind.
I wanted it to be over. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore.
So I took one. Then two. Then three.
As I was about to put the fourth pill in my mouth, my phone rang. It was a friend from four floors down; a boy in several of my classes that I had gotten to know pretty well over the semester. He had a simple question about our history assignment. But he must have sensed something was wrong, or even more probable it was a divine intervention, because two minutes later he was pounding on my dorm door, demanding I let him in.
I did. And then collapsed in his arms and didn’t let go. And neither did he.
He saved my life that night.
I opened up to him how I was feeling. And he opened up with his own pains. And later when my roommate came home, I talked to her. But I was ashamed that I had even thought it and so I never told anyone else what happened that night.
Somehow, I believe by the grace of God, I got through it.
That darkness has visited me and sank its claws into me in every season of my life since then. And I’ve had to fight it over and over and over again. But unlike that moment in my dorm room over fifteen years ago, I haven’t been fighting alone.
Because despite all the brokenness and heartache that makes up our world, there is REAL hope. It is big enough for any pain. It is deep enough for any heartache. And it is strong enough for any circumstance. And it has a name.
2,000 years ago, He brought redemption and hope to a nation groaning for relief from oppression and depression. His message of love, grace, and faith healed physical, mental, and emotional scars, and set the world on fire. And His words of encouragement are still speaking through His Word and Spirit today.
So, while the world is giving us 13 Reasons Why, Jesus is giving us 13 Reasons Why NOT. And He is extending His promise of hope and peace to all of us right here, right now, no matter what we’ve ever done, what we’ve ever thought, or what we’ve ever said.
13 REASONS WHY NOT
YOU HAVE A PURPOSE (Jeremiah 29:11) The Creator of all made you and He made you for a specific purpose that only you can fill. Your life has meaning, within your family, your community, and in the plan that God has uniquely woven for you. You are valuable.
YOU ARE A CONQUEROR (Romans 8:37-39) You have the strength to overcome anything. Because you have been equipped with power beyond measure through Christ. Your weakness is made perfect in His strength.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Deuteronomy 31:6) You don’t need to be afraid because Jesus, our sword and our shield promises to go with you through all life’s hills and valleys. He will guard you. He will fight for you. And He will NEVER leave you alone.
YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE (Psalm 139:14) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were designed to live within a specific purpose. And when you live within that purpose of His awesome design, you not only flourish, but you shine. There is nothing about the way He knit you together that is a mistake.
YOU HAVE A GIFT (Ephesians 2:10) You are God’s handiwork. That means you have been given talents to serve others. Use your gifts. God knew exactly what He was doing when He created you to live in this time, in this space.
YOU ARE A LIGHT (Matthew 5:14-16) Remember “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”? You are the light. Shine bright! Your passions and service to others will inspire world changing transformation.
YOU ARE FORGIVEN (Colossians 1:13-14) You once lived in darkness, but Jesus has brought you into the Kingdom of Light! You are redeemed. You are forgiven. You are FREE!
YOU ARE NOTICED (2 Chronicles 16:9) God sees you. He sees your heartache. He sees your pain. He sees your weakness. And He wants to be the strength you need to move forward. Be weak in His perfect strength.
YOU ARE A DELIGHT (Zephaniah 3:17) No matter what you’ve done, you cannot lose His love. Because no matter what you’ve done, you are the apple of His eye. The delight that causes His heart to sing.
YOUR STORY MATTERS (Psalm 8) You were not made to take up space. You were made to tell a story, His story. Your life matters because your story matters. Even the stars in the sky are full of stories. So how much more can your story impact this fallen world?
YOU ARE HIS (John 1:12) When you become His, you become family. He claims you as His own. You are not just you. You are a child of God.
YOU ARE LOVED (Ephesians 2:4-5) You are more than loved. You are adored. You are treasured more than anything else. And Jesus decided, long before you were even born, that you were worth dying for. And His pursuit of you is relentless.
YOU ARE BEING MADE NEW (2 Corinthians 5:17) Hope is never lost because you are never lost. He is starting a new work in you and WILL see it through until the end. You are His masterpiece. And He is transforming you- heart, mind, body, and spirit-with every trial, every heartache, every victory, and every revelation.
Suicide is real. But there is real hope in Christ.
The truth is that it’s not only at our lowest do we need this hope, but every second of every day of our lives.
When you’re struggling with a deep sadness that seems to drown you, cry out to Jesus.
When every other person in your life has left you or let you down (because they will), cry out to Jesus.
When you feel like you can’t get through one more day, one more heartache, one more disappointment, cry out to Jesus.
He will meet you in your desperate.
I want to leave you with some poignant words from Bethel, a worship band I listen to. Read them carefully and let them sink in. Really sink in.
It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense
We’ll never comprehend, the way You love us
It’s unthinkable, only Heaven knows
Just how far You’d go, to say You love us
To say You love us
To say You love us.
YOU are so very, very loved!
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, please don’t try to fight alone. Reach out to a family member, friend, support group, or local church. If none of these are available, please visit http://depreventionlifeline.org or call the NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to the CRISIS TEXT LINE at 741-741.
Call. Reach out. Do something. But don’t stay in the darkness alone.