Occasionally, I find myself looking at the articles on Snapchat’s “news” section. Although I would not necessarily categorize most of the articles I see as news, one really stuck out to me. I cannot remember what magazine was responsible for posting it, but I do know that it was all about 13 Reasons Why. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a brand new show on Netflix, which is based on a novel about a teenage girl’s suicide.

I personally have not seen it, but the majority of people on Twitter have, and they all seem to love it. However, the article in question focused on the major critiques the show has received. I will not sit here and list every single one, but since it deals with suicide, the biggest critique was how it allegedly glorified the girl’s actions.

Like I said before, I have not seen the show, so I cannot pretend to praise it or condemn it. However, there is one thing I want to point out. Since 13 Reasons Why took Netflix by storm, social media platforms have been bombarded with discussions focusing on topics that are often deemed taboo. Suicide, depression and mental illness in general are starting to be discussed more than normal.

After losing several people to suicide, I have learned the importance of speaking up and having certain difficult conversations. Too often, we would rather not bring up things that are hard to talk about. We don’t want to deal with messy situations. Unfortunately, people you know are dealing with those issues every single day of their lives. It is imperative to try to understand what others are going through.

Instead of sweeping things under the table, now is the time to truly talk and learn about the constant battles facing society. Mental illness is not a selective disease. It does not discriminate. According to Newsweek, approximately 1 in 5 Americans deal with a mental illness. If you are a lucky part of the population who does not struggle with their mental or emotional health, consider yourself blessed, but don’t let it end there. Research depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Let the people around you know that you are there for them. Let them know you care.

If you are dealing with a mental illness, please know you are not alone. I know it is easier said than done, but don’t be afraid to talk about it. Like cancer, mental illnesses are not something people choose to have. It is not their fault. It is time to start treating people with compassion and empathy.

For anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-TALK.

“Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse.” -Karl A. Menninger

~ in loving memory of T.J. and Madi ~