Casey lived just down the street from me growing up. He, my older brother, and I would play basketball until our muscles ached and it was too dark to see the hoop. He used to call me “Crazy Legs”. He was so full of humor and laughs and goofiness. We began to run with different crowds once we got into high school, but we would still shoot baskets from time to time. And he still kept calling me “Crazy Legs”, despite my requests for him to cut it out. Then one day, he called his girlfriend, said good-bye, crawled head-first into his sleeping bag, put a gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. That was my first experience with suicide. And to this day, when I go visit my parents, I can’t drive by Casey’s old house without wishing it never happened.
In March of this year, Netflix released a series titled “13 Reasons Why” that centers around the suicide of a teenage girl, a series of recordings she left for one of our her peers as to why, and the ugly teen culture that was the environment for it all. This show has sparked all sorts of online engagement with the issues it displays for its audience. The two best of these online resources in my reading come from Trevin Wax of the Gospel Coalition and Julie Lowe from CCEF. But it is Julie Lowe’s article that I want to capitalize on as a springboard for a series of articles based around the title of this post: “13 Reasons Why You Have Good Reasons to Live.” In the interest of full disclosure, I have not nor do I plan on watching the Netflix series. However, in my role as a pastor, and quite apart from the apparent visual death that is “13 Reasons Why”, I see a great need to help people find some hope and a hand-hold on a life laden with isolation, hidden wounds, crippling shame, loss of identity, etc. So what I hope to do in this series is use Lowe’s 13 reasons (with a tweak here and there) and flesh them out a little. But the greater hope I have for this series is that there is a Casey out there somewhere who is ready to call his girlfriend and say good-bye… yet somehow the Holy Spirit uses these articles to give them enough hope to make a different call… one that would lead to life.