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!

NekoBunny0923 said...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 4:48 pm
I came to this site for a school assignment. My teacher told me, "Find a memoir you like, and answer these questions." I was going to pick the first one on the page just to get through and get my points, but then I saw "50 Reasons to Live". As someone who struggles with depression, someone who tried so hard in the past to die, and someone who has days where I want to, I was intrigued. Reading through this, I started to cry, because this resonates with me so much. I just wanted to say thanks. I h... (more »)
MeineFraulein replied...
Feb. 8, 2015 at 10:20 pm
I can say ditto to almost all of this: the reason I came, the reason I was hooked, the reason this will never leave me.
kesh12345 said...
Nov. 20, 2014 at 1:00 am
I've read a lot of anti-suicide/reasons to live/reasons not to die posts and as opposed to all of their desperate (but I suppose warranted) pleas to not end a life, yours was something I could relate to somewhat. I'm not sure what this weird comment of validation means, either to you or me, but I guess, thank you very much. Definitely an article to hold me back somewhat :+) Hope everything is well!
KaRue said...
Nov. 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm
I've been there and I'm glad you didn't become one of those who lost their fight with suicide. I love you kiddo.
prittygirlwendy said...
Sept. 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm
i love this one it was probably one of the funniest, sadest and best of all!!!!!! i like the one of the 50 where it sais i wouldent get to see who won american idol. i hope you are ok. : )
prettygirlAnastasha! replied...
Sept. 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm
wendy you are so right it was very funny see you at school  
prettygirlAnastasha! said...
Sept. 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm
I love your story and i love how you wrote this it was so true and this really did make me cry hope you can get through this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!some of the things you said were pretty sad and some were very funny like when you said you would not get to see who would will american idol but i hope you get through it
Lilianaacuna said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm
This article was so deep and touching. It reminds me of me during sophomore year, I had to give myself a reason to live even if it was the tiniest reason, everyday because I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to live.
Cutepup229 said...
Sept. 15, 2014 at 10:44 am
I felt the same way once and I did wright 20 reasons that I should live and I read trow them a lot and thought to my self is it really worth it. This peace it amazing. It helps people realize what is importent and what little thangs can do to stop them from doing something stupid. So yah
SilverHorse569 said...
Sept. 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm
Such a powerful piece of writing. So many emotions mixed and blended into a balanced piece. One of my favorite pieces so far. Keep it up!
xatfx12 said...
Aug. 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm
What a beautiful piece of writing. You are truly talented. I cried, and i almost never cry reading work that isn't my own. 
Struggling said...
Jun. 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm
I'm so torn when it comes to this article... Part of me loves it and feels so inspired to make something out of my life. The other part tells me that nothing of it applies to me, that nothing here can actually help me. Also I just can't belive in a higher power, I just can't rationally explain it and how it have treated me. What did I do to deserve it? Anyway, thank you for posting.
gospelspreader said...
Mar. 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm
I want to personally commend you for not ending your life. I am soldier myself who is in the Army and have felt many dark days in my life. A permanent soution to a vonurabel situation seems pleasing at times. TO do the hard right over the easy wrong is always difficult and I commend you for saving many people the greif of losing a wonderful person. I have good news for you tonight. Those what if statements no longer need be a what if. Heaven is real and hell is real as well. Jesus the lord and... (more »)
Ed mx said...
Mar. 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm
I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. I hope you are doing great right now!! Thanks for not giving up 
Sara said...
Feb. 20, 2014 at 12:00 am
Thanks. Just, thank you for sharing this. You have no idea what you just did. I know. You changed me. You saved my life tonight. Thank you. I owe you.
ashle said...
Oct. 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm
I remember that army base in Germany. I lived there to a couple of years back. I remember how everyone in that community knew each other.
cowgirl4ever said...
Jul. 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm
This is so well written and relatable, as I went through a depression! Excellent writing and I hope you are doing well!
ramfthomas4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm
This is inspiring for everyone and a great reminder that everyone has a purpose.  Keep writing!! <3
missm1126 said...
May 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm
I love this! It feels so genuine. "You can't eat ice cream in hell," is pretty much the only reason I need. :) Keep it up!
Sparkle1pops This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm
hehehe I couldn't help laughing even though it was a suicide note XD It was sooooooo great! I really think i can cope with you. Sometimes I feel depressed but reading articles like this is what keeps me going :) Thank you!
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