If You’re Reading This, Take Action
There is one death by suicide every 11 minutes in America alone and roughly one death every 40 minutes worldwide. Though it makes it no less heartbreakingly unfathomable, this statistic sheds light on the reality that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Mental health is a global endemic and a social injustice that I refuse to accept. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become clear to me that the best actors aren’t getting played off the stage at the Oscars; they surround us, silently screaming for help.
In high schools nationwide, school systems must devote more attention to suicide awareness. It’s not enough to put posters around the hallways, which most students likely pass by or pay little attention to. When I think about this issue that I so deeply care about, I often think of a powerful quote I heard from the main character, Clay Jensen, from 13 Reasons Why: an American mystery drama created by Netflix in 2017. The plot of the drama revolves around the suicide of Clay’s friend, Hannah Baker. Lashing out at the principal after Hannah’s death, Clay expresses,“You see all these ‘don't kill yourself’ posters up on the wall? They weren't up before. They put them up because she killed herself.” While this show came off as widely controversial to fans and I personally did not agree with many of the opinions and themes surrounding the realities of teen suicide, I still always remember this powerful scene that the directors created. Moreover, I think that the message behind this quote is just so true nowadays, and unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if an instance like this were to happen in my school. Like the example with the posters, it isn’t enough to take action after the fact because it is simply too late.
At my own high school, for example, I felt empowered to raise awareness for suicide prevention and polarizing mental health issues because I felt that the curriculum was not prioritizing this enough. With an issue so widespread, it’s difficult to figure out where to start, but in my high school, it’s inspired me to take charge of the LET'S Club - an organization with the mission of raising awareness for mental illness and erasing the stigma around it while simultaneously providing support to anyone who may be struggling. As the president, I’ve been able to build a strong alliance with over 100 members towards this goal and implemented several plans to spearhead the fight against the suicide epidemic. Still,I know that there is so much more that must be done, and this is a cause I will never stop fighting for.
If you’re reading this, I encourage you all to take action about issues you care about: whether it be suicide prevention, mental health, or anything else that matters to you. Even if it requires you to step out of your comfort zone, take action. After all, it could save someone’s life.
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