Fifty Reasons to Live This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 10, 2009
By , Cabot, AR
A few years ago, when I was 14, I didn't want to live anymore. It all seemed so hopeless. Everything. I remember.

The guidance counselor had thrown me out of her office. That doesn't happen to normal people. Normal people go to the counselor and get the help they need. I was too messed up to be helped, too messed up to put up with it anymore.

No one could have suspected something was wrong with me. I had always been the clown in my social circle. Clowns don't cry.

But I did.
Even at the community theater, the only place that gave me moments of happiness. Something about the darkness did it. Sometimes I would sit on the floor between the curtains and just let the tears flow. It was easy when I was a stagehand. No one could even see me, garbed in black, hiding within the black curtains with the lights off.

I was invisible. And no one ever knew.

Then things started to get really bad. My grades fell. I spent more and more time by myself after school. I was living in Germany on a stupid army base. There was nothing more isolating than spotting someone I knew every time I left the house. I always had to be on my best behavior. I had to keep looking over my shoulder. I couldn't let up, because they couldn't know the truth. There was no sanctuary. Fear was my cage. The bars were cold, black, unbreakable. I was inside.

And I was alone.

One night I took out a piece of paper and a pen to write the first draft of a suicide note. Of course I would do it in drafts; personality quirks don't just disappear, even in times of extreme hopelessness.

I touched my pen to the paper but couldn't write. Words wouldn't come; my pen wouldn't form them. Instead I took a deep breath and wrote something entirely different.

50 Reasons to Live

1. My family would miss me.

2. My friends would miss me.

3. I want to grow up to be something.

4. I want a chance to change the world.

5. I want to go on a date.

6. Old people get discounts.

7. All that dirt on top of my coffin would be ­really heavy.

8. I would never find out who won “American Idol.”

9. When Bush leaves the presidency, I want to throw a party.

10. The afterlife seems scary.

11. I really need to pass gym class.

12. I wouldn't get to pick the clothes they'd bury
­me in.

13. Katie doesn't have the guts to be the big sister.

14. Mom and Dad would have to start paying babysitters without me.

15. Funerals are expensive.

16. I would miss fudge brownies.

17. I need a haircut.

18. I want to learn to drive.

19. I want to be old enough to legally drink.

20. I have heard it's a real shame to die a virgin.

21. I don't want to die before my virtual pet.

22. No one would be around to clean out my closet.

23. The world needs my help.

24. At this point, things can only get better.

25. Just as I don't want to lose the people close to me, they don't want to lose me.

26. I want to at least earn a high school diploma.

27. I'd like a college diploma too.

28. There might not be chocolate in heaven (assuming there is one and I go there).

29. You can't eat ice cream in hell (assuming there is one and I go there).

30. Life shouldn't just be thrown away.

31. I want to know who gets killed next on “Lost.”

32. A teacher I had once said, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

33. People don't reach their life quotas until at least age 87.

34. With my luck, I'll probably have a winning lottery ticket in my pocket when I go.

35. Even if my life is not important to me, it's probably important to someone.

36. The seventh Harry Potter book hasn't come ­out yet.

37. If God is real, I picture him to be a lot like that kid sitting on an anthill burning ants with a magnifying glass, and I'm not real excited about meeting him.

38. A lot of people deserve to die more than I do.

39. Claustrophobics and coffins don't mix.

40. I don't want to choose the day of my death.

41. I hear senior year of high school is pretty fun.

42. It would really suck to attempt to harm myself and end up surviving anyway.

43. Maybe there's someone out there who understands.

44. They need me at the theater to do those tricky scene changes.

45. No one else has half the sense to edit that stupid school newspaper but me.

46. I would really miss science class.

47. I refuse to become a statistic.

48. I want a chance to do something stupid at ­graduation.

49. Life can change, but death is pretty absolute.

50. There is always a reason to live.

I couldn't write a suicide note. And I couldn't commit suicide without writing one. So I didn't die. We moved away from that army base, but I wasn't fixed.

I started my sophomore year of high school no less messed up than I had been the previous year. I was just stuck in a writer's block.


They saved me. They changed me.

I told my English teacher first. Fighting against all my mental conditioning, I let the words out. And she didn't hate me. She didn't kick me out of her room. She gave me a hug. I cried and cried that night, but I wasn't crying out of hopelessness this time.

My history teacher was next, much later in the year. I had begun to think that maybe the English teacher was a weird exception to the rule, that no one else would react like she did. But the history teacher didn't hate me. She didn't throw me out of her room.

She put a hand on my shoulder and smiled gently, reassuringly. Maybe
the guidance counselor had been the ­exception.

My cage opened. They reached in and helped me step out, guiding me with kindness and advice. Together we walked out of the darkness, out of the gloom, away from the depression and into the light. They urged me to look up at the sky, the azure, expansive wonder rolling out over my head. Look up and beyond, they said, look at your future, see where you can go. They took my hands, ruffled my hair, smiled and nudged me forward. Never stop moving, they said, never allow cages to hold you, never stop dreaming, never stop making your dreams come true.

This was what I had almost missed out on, what I had almost left behind with reckless abandon – love, in all of its blinding singularity, going on forever right in the place I had never thought to look.

I wiped my eyes and looked up. Love was there, just as tangible as the two people who had led me
to it.


I keep my failed suicide note inside my sophomore yearbook, which I asked both teachers to sign. The paper is wrinkled and torn. The folds are deep. My handwriting is illegible in some parts, but I know what it says because I committed every word to memory as I wrote it.

It is a token from a place I will never return to. It is proof that I survived. It is something born from the darkness that helped lead me to the light. It is a piece of writing that I unfold and reread on cloudy days to remind me that the sun will always return with the morning light.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 92 comments. Post your own now!

arefhrth said...
Feb. 7, 2016 at 8:20 am
thank you i sort of needed this
WhyNot said...
Jan. 25, 2016 at 10:52 pm
It's past 2:00am and I needed this so badly. Thank you, just- thank you.
LittleRedDeliriousPrinceThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 3, 2015 at 10:54 am
I like how you started the article and got right to the point, but I love even more how you were strong enough to tell this story not only to your teachers but to all of us.
ChocolateDrop said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm
In the first line, I like how the main point of the issue is stated, “A few years ago, when I was 14, I didn't want to live anymore. It all seemed so hopeless. Everything.” Although this is not something I could relate to but I can understand the concept of someone not feeling wanted or having the sense of hopelessness, I know teens that go through that type of thing and I like how in the passage, towards the end, he found a scapegoat to his problem,” Then things started to get really bad... (more »)
ChocolateDrop said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm
I like the imagery that is used in the second stanzas “I live on and on Eternal I watched your birth your short century of life and then your death” Because I recently lost a friend and we were the same age and I feel that it relates to the point of view of his mother like how going on with life can seem like a long journey when the person you have been emotionally and physically connected with since his birth and in an instant that person is gone with an untimely death.
claynique said...
Nov. 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm
“It is a piece of writing that I unfold and reread on cloudy days to remind me that the sun will always return with the morning light” is an inspirational quote. This is inspirational to me because you overcame your suicidal phase and started to appreciate your life. Overcoming suicide is not easy. I applaud you for sharing your story and encourage you to remember that your struggles will only make you stronger in the end.
Meow7 said...
Oct. 16, 2015 at 2:49 am
I was having a really, really bad night if you get where I'm coming from. In order to stop myself from doing something I was listing all the reasons to live. But then I blanked out. So I googled "reasons to live" and this popped up. Thank you because you just saved me.
Luca said...
Oct. 15, 2015 at 8:06 pm
It's satire. It supposed to make fun of important issues using humor, irony etc.
SuzyQ said...
Oct. 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm
What a love story! So well written I felt like I was there! Loved it!
monicwashere said...
Oct. 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm
sharpened_pencil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Utterly beautiful and poignantly sad, it left me speechless. I have a very close friend who was in your position, and I watched her bounce back, it was the greatest feeling in the world to see her look happy to be alive again. I hope other teens who are hurting get a chance to read this. Amazing work and many congratulations.
Benjy said...
Sept. 12, 2015 at 1:36 am
This was an amazing memoir of your experience of dark-into-light. If a lot of suicidal people read this memoir, I pray to God that your memoir will help them stop thinking about committing suicide. I wish Robin Williams had lived to read your memoir------ it would've saved his life! Keep up the great work!
monikitty12 said...
Aug. 31, 2015 at 9:53 pm
Wow. You are definitely not alone. And you have inspired people. You have inspired me. I used to live in the dark, but after I read this, I now know the 50 reasons I needed to live happily in this world. Thank you.
Pickle612 said...
Jun. 14, 2015 at 1:44 pm
Absolutely inspiring... I have no other words.
Ms.alvarez23 replied...
Jul. 18, 2015 at 11:39 pm
I'm so glad I read your story. I'm such an animal lover that I know what your writing about happens to often and it just breaks my heart. I told my son just a few minutes ago I need to do something to make a difference. Laws of animal cruelty need to be inforced and be passed in states that don't have them. We need to be their voice.
BrennaGreen said...
Apr. 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm
This was amazing!! No other words! This is very inspiring for a lot of people!! And good for you! You are one strong person! Keep it up! The world is waiting for you!!
AerAnimaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm
I can relate to this a lot. Thanks for helping the cause of anti-suicide.
SilverInk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 2, 2015 at 3:36 am
Your article is the most inspiring anti-suicide article I've ever read.....Trust me - a lot of teens can take hope from this wonderful memoir of yours....
blue.alex1802 said...
Feb. 23, 2015 at 1:52 am
I came here feeling at the lowest I've felt in a long time. This boosted my spirits. Thank you.
Jayquellen said...
Feb. 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm
Thank you for sharing something so personal and often so stigmatized. One day, you'll be a teacher to the next kid like you. You'll be the one to give that kid someone who'll listen and care. The world is a better place because these teachers took a moment to give life.
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