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 87 comments. Post your own now!

Im to lazy to write said...
Sep. 12 at 11:52 pm
This just made me want to kill myself even more
 
TheMagnificentSock said...
May 29 at 5:50 pm
I needed this.
 
Fashion said...
May 20 at 12:11 pm
Thanks a lot, u saved me for today
 
Cocker said...
Mar. 30 at 8:42 am
Eat my ass
 
Coolrat213 said...
Nov. 29, 2016 at 10:35 pm
Thank you so much. The sibling thing hit me like a truck and you've put a lot in perspective.
 
Sidne Pitre said...
Oct. 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm
For a long time and still to this day I've suffered from depression and I make sure to keep a strong facade. It hurts,it hurts so much but I laugh and smile anyway because I know in the end it might be worth it. Thank you,it feels so nice to know I'm not the only one that's hurting this way.
 
riceiscool said...
Oct. 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm
I think this was a good memoir. I used to feel like this throughout my 6th grade year to my 7th grade year. I think you should write more or create a book about this topic. :))
 
food said...
Oct. 14, 2016 at 3:41 pm
Thank you for this. I know how you felt
 
depressedguy69 said...
Sept. 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm
lol sameee
 
Harper99 said...
Aug. 19, 2016 at 12:07 am
I'm pretty sure you wrote this a long time ago, but this helped me, so thank you
 
reallybadpuns said...
Jul. 15, 2016 at 10:48 pm
This just made me cry, not because it is beautiful (which it is) but because I'm stuck in a different cage. I cannot live with myself. I care deeply for the people around me (which is really what keeps me going), but I cannot care enough for myself. I hate myself. Enough about me, to make a long story short, this piece saved me tonight. I was planning on wrapping tightly a rubber band around my wrist and keeping it over night (I cant bring myself to cut) but then I decided otherwise. I go o... (more »)
 
Ezzplayz said...
Apr. 25, 2016 at 10:34 pm
you have talent and you are brave you should concider a carrer as a writer
 
John said...
Apr. 15, 2016 at 2:42 am
Your reasons were shit want to kill myself more now
 
no longer suicidal said...
Mar. 14, 2016 at 4:09 pm
dude this is excatly how i felt from the end of eighth grade to freshman year, but instead of a note to remind me of someplace i wont go back to, i have scars, but those scars are not fresh and how you were talking about the teachers helping you, i told my youth group, they accepted me and to my suprise most of them could relate, a day after i had that talk with my youth group a boy asked me out on a date, now that boy is my bae and he is my CURE.itll be a month now that i havent felt depressed ... (more »)
 
mwilliams This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 10, 2016 at 11:09 pm
Tear Stained Beautiful
 
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.
 
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