If you haven’t heard about 13 Reasons Why, you’ve probably been living under a rock. The popular Netflix series has opened the public conversation around suicide, drawing attention to the gritty subject of risk factors, including bullying, sexuality issues, and rape.
But you can’t open Pandora’s Box without consequences.
While bringing such a taboo topic out into the open has been great for smashing stigma, what is liberating for some is a trigger for others. Schools and organizations working with at-risk young people report a spike in re-emergent suicidal thinking since the show hit the screen.
The show also portrays mental health services as ineffective in providing help to at-risk youth, effectively discouraging young people from seeking help. This is cause for concern.
But a cautionary tale is not the answer. Controversy amplifies curiosity, and it tends to backfire.
The Far North Queensland Suicide Prevention Taskforce took to social media to tackle the issue head-on, and #365ReasonsWhyNot was born.
The 13 reasons presented for suicide as the ultimate act of revenge are countered by 365 reasons to keep on living, all suggested by young people in the Cairns and Hinterland region.
The reasons are simple and modest, achievable by most people, not aspirational goals that are out of reach. They range from simple, with “because I love spending time with my friends,” to inspirational, with “because life is a great adventure,” to feisty, with “because I want to kick depression’s butt.”
The point is that life for most people isn’t about grand plans and great successes. It’s about getting through each day intact, hopefully with a smile on our faces.
From June 1st, one social media meme will be released every day for a year, each presenting one reason to continue living, to not give up. Each meme is branded with the hashtag #365ReasonsWhyNot, bears a link to the FNQ Suicide Prevention Taskforce Facebook page, and is accompanied by a link to a helpful service or resource so people can access support for themselves or a loved one.
With #365ReasonsWhyNot, those 13 Reasons Why will pale in comparison.