Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nicolas Shump: Getting on with It

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nicolas Shump: Getting on with It

Article excerpt

I remember the first time I learned of someone committing suicide.

She was a young high school student, much like the protagonist of Jay Asher's novel "Thirteen Reasons Why." Unlike the fictional Hannah Baker, this girl did not leave a collection of cassette tapes behind. I did not know her well; she went to another high school. Long before social media existed, I heard rumors as to why she killed herself. Something about a breakup and a possible pregnancy.

The truth is that I didn't need to know the reasons -- a young girl had taken her own life. What purpose would a "why" serve to me?

Thirteen Reasons Why is a well-paced narrative with an usual premise. I heard about this novel when the television series came out.

Teen suicide is an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed.

However, as good as story it is, for me the novel strikes several different chords in my own life. One of the most compelling issues is how much our daily actions affect the lives of others. Over time, I have come to learn this as a husband, parent, son and friend. Literature is replete with stories about families and lovers who confront what we have done to one another and the devastation that often occurs because of our actions and the actions of others.

As I read this novel, which includes several instances of bullying, I cringed. While there may exist many new and more pervasive forms of bullying today, the pain from being bullied has not changed over time. Hannah Baker's story took me back to my years at McCarter Elementary, a new school I attended after moving across town. Though I seemed like a nice enough kid, I was a bully. Like many bullies, I too experienced bullying in my daily life. For me, bullying was a learned behavior. However, this in no way excuses what I did to some of my fellow classmates at McCarter. …

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