*Reader discretion is advised as this blog post may trigger many emotions.*
‘13 Reasons Why’ is a recent Netflix series that has gone crazy viral within the last few months. If you have yet to hear about it then you might live under a rock… It has become so popular that Netflix just announced that the show will continue with a second season. In just the first week that the show was released it was tweeted about over 3.5 million times. The show has gotten a variety of reviews, both positive and negative. The positive reviews have mostly been praise for shedding light on suicide, a topic that is rarely talked about but attempted far more often than we might realize. The negative comments have mostly been scrutiny for trying to “romanticize” suicide. While I have never personally watched the show, I’ve seen many different reactions to it. With all of the talk regarding suicide going around, we thought it was the perfect time to shed light on suicide ourselves by telling you a dear friend’s story. Without further ado, here is 13 Reasons Why: Zoe’s Story…
“I’m Zoe. I’m a 24 year old preschool teacher and this is my story.
I had one of the best childhoods ever! I was raised in church, where both of my parents were heavily involved. Every time the doors were open, we were there. They instilled Godly values in me when I was young and loved both my sister and I so much. I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was seven and I loved learning about Him and telling everyone I knew about Him. Everything was great until I went into junior high…
At this point, my father started drinking a lot and ended up leaving the church. My mom had to become the leader and spiritual guider of our house, which put an extreme toll on her. My dad eventually ended up losing his job and became extremely abusive toward my mother, which resulted in my parents divorcing. Their divorce made things a little better for me, my mom, and my sister. Money was tight and there were times we had to skip dinner, our cars would break down, and our power would be cut off, but at least the abuse was gone and we were happy.
Right when things were starting to look up, it all took a downward spiral when I was in tenth grade. My mom got really sick and we ended up finding out she had stage four lung cancer. That’s typically a death sentence, so it completely rocked our family. What I didn’t know was even after my parents divorce, my mom had been still receiving abuse from my father but keeping it from us. When my dad found out she was sick, the abuse he was giving my mom had turned to me, I was the scapegoat… Everyone around me told me I had to be the strong one for my sister and my mom, so I kept everything he was doing to me to myself. It started out verbally, then emotionally, and finally things got physical.
I stepped away from God. All I ever heard was that God was this gracious Father who loved us so much, but I couldn’t relate because the only father I knew was horrible and didn’t love me. And then hatred sank in, causing me to wonder why God would place me in this situation. Why would He do this to me? In order to deal with the pain I started drinking and doing drugs. I’d steal my mom’s pains meds and sneak out to parties, but nothing ever seemed to dull the pain. On the inside I was screaming, but I couldn’t let anyone know what was going on. I had to keep a smile on my face and pretend like everything was okay.
One night in my bathroom I saw a razor blade, and that’s when I decided to start cutting and I just started gashing my arm. There was so much pain I was enduring in my life that I had no control over, but this, this I could control. I could control how deep I went and how much pain it would cause. There was so much relief in it, but it slowly became an addiction. The relief was only temporary from the pain and I found myself running to it more and more.
One night my dad and I got into a really big altercation and I ended up drinking a lot, so I skipped school the next day. I got on the computer and started going through my MySpace when I noticed a picture of me on someone else’s profile. It was a very unflattering picture and the girl made me look even worse than I already did. Then I started reading the comments and everyone was making fun of me. I just couldn’t take it anymore, and all I could see were the negatives in my life. My mom was dying, money was tight, my dad was abusive, and now I was the huge joke of the school. I had it! I felt alone, empty, and worthless. I decided to give up. I decided that my life wasn’t worth living anymore, so I attempted suicide by an overdose.
Almost immediately after taking the pills I had this feeling that I needed to reach out to someone, a feeling that I kind of wanted to still live. I got online doubting anyone would be on in the middle of the day and my youth pastor who almost was never on was actually on that day. I was never super close with him but something told me to tell him. After telling him I was rushed to the hospital and then sent off to a mental institution for a week. I was in no way better, and I still wanted to die. I told them everything they wanted to hear so I would be released from that horrible place. I left more depressed than I was when I went in. I questioned why I reached out, “Why didn’t I just die?”
The next year and a half were hard. I was still drinking, doing drugs, cutting and my mom was deteriorating quickly. The abuse was at an all time high. Suicide was always at the back of my mind and would creep its way to the front every now and again. Two months after I graduated my mom ended up passing away. It was that night that I finally had enough. I got down on my knees and finally prayed to God. I told him I was done with trying to numb the pain my way and I was ready to accept His love and grace that I kept looking for in the world. He gave me this overwhelming peace that night and the strength I needed to get through my mom’s death.
Over the past couple of years I’ve still had struggles, but instead of running to the worldly satisfactions I would go to before, I have a gracious Father in heaven to run to. His arms are always open to me and He truly cares about the things I struggle with. The love that I was missing from my earthly father, Christ gives to me, and there is nothing I can do that will ever make Him stop loving me. I’ve learned that I’m not worthless and that I am wanted by the King of all kings…”
Zoe’s story is a beautiful reflection of the love of the Father. A love that stretches far and wide. A love that makes us worthy, not because of who we are but because of Who’s we are. A love that brings peace and contentment to troubled hearts. A love that heals wounds. A love that gives life a purpose and a meaning. Nothing compares to this kind of love.
We wanted to share Zoe’s story because thanks to ‘13 Reasons Why’, we now know that suicide is something that needs to be talked about and something that is attempted far more often than we might realize. We wanted to tell her story because suicide is not the answer, Jesus is. As we saw in Zoe’s story, suicide didn’t help anything. The only thing that could save Zoe’s life was the One who created it. To end her story, Zoe wrote 13 reasons why life really is worth living. We hope that this story encourages you. We hope that you can see the love of Jesus shining radiantly through Zoe’s story. And we hope that you know that you are loved, far more than you realize, by the greatest Father of all. Zoe has scars, but so does Jesus… And His scars cover hers.
13 Reasons Why you should stick around:
1. The beauty in sunrises and sunsets.
2. Sitting with your best friends around a bonfire, searching for shooting stars.
3. The calming sound of the ocean waves rolling in.
4. Stuffing your face full of ice cream at the end of a long day.
5. Music and movies that have yet to be released.
6. Staying up late, binge watching episodes of “The Office”.
7. The adventures you’ll have with your friends or by yourself one day.
8. Laughing uncontrollably with your friends over an inside joke.
9. The things you’re going through right now will make you a stronger person. One day you’ll be able to use that pain to help someone else get through theirs.
10. You’re a hero. You looked death right in its face, stared it down and walked away having won the battle.
11. There are people that care for you. They would be devastated to not see your smiling face again.
12. You are loved!!!
13. God has chosen you! He has big plans and a purpose for you.
If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255.
If you or someone you know is dealing with abuse in any form, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1−800−799−7233.
If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or anything related please text HOME to 741741.
Zoe & Anna Jo