I just finished the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It’s about a highschool girl who committed suicide. In this book the girl does not leave a suicide note, but 7 cassette tapes filled with the reasons why she couldn’t handle living anymore. She mails the tapes, the day she commits suicide, to the first person she talks about. They are to, in turn, send them on to the next person and then the next until all 13 people have heard them.
This girl’s life had little correlation to mine, except for the feeling of not being able to handle things and wanting to die. I have in fact, attempted suicide before. I was 13 at the time. For whatever reason, I failed. No one noticed my absence for three days and life went on. Anyway, back to the topic.
The last person she spoke with was her teacher/guidance counselor. She told him flat-out she wanted life to end. She told him that something bad happened at a party, that she wasn’t going to press charges, wasn’t even sure she could press charges, and he told her that if that were the case then she needed to move on. She walked out of his office and even though he called out for her to come back, after his door closed he remained behind it. He didn’t pursue her or notify anyone that she may be suicidal.
Now this stuck a chord inside my soul. I tried to tell once and I got blown off too. I told my uncle’s wife, yes my aunt, that my pap had pulled me down on top of him when he was lying on the couch. She said something like “yeah but that’s your pap” and the subject was dropped. Of course, what sparked the conversation was that my step-dad had accidentally pulled me down on him when he was asleep and I tried to cover him. He had a few too many beers and was dead to the world and I had to wiggle my way off of him. I can’t stress enough that nothing inappropriate ever happened between my stepdad and me. In fact, he had no knowledge of the incident because he was sound asleep. But it seemed like a way to feel out if I could tell and would be listened to. My aunt ran to my mother and told her that my stepdad was doing stuff to me and what a mess that was. He got angry and accused me of telling lies, which my aunt did exaggerate the incident to the point that what my mother heard was actually lies. After a conversation with my mom, where I set things straight, he apologized to me. I was so ashamed of myself for creating so much trouble. I never tried to tell again.
But reading about this girl and her guidance counselor brought that all back to me. When you open your mouth, but no one really listens you start to wonder why you even bother. The girl in the book killed herself, I just lived with the abuse and now I live with the aftermath.
Somewhere along the way you’d think people would shut up, open their ears, and listen to what’s being said underneath the words. But I guess that’s wishful thinking.