13 Reasons

13 Reasons Why hit Netflix and went viral. I remember reading the novel back in high school and I rather liked it. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan. I suppose it was enjoyable, but here are 13 things I wanted to point out about it:

  1. It glorified suicide. It depicted her as more loved and beautiful in death than when she was alive. I disliked this because it could be received as encouragement; if you don’t feel loved or beautiful now, just put a bullet in your head and everyone will finally see how amazing of a person you were. That is not true. That is not accurate. Despite how more often than not, we tend learn to appreciate things more after they’re gone, the finality of death is never—I repeat, never!—the solution or even a rational way to go about proving that you matter.
  2. Clay Jenson is a wimp. He’s a good guy, I guess, in so many ways, but he lacks courage and the ability to make a difference during a lot of the key times where it mattered. Let’s just start with him stealing the cassette player from Tony. Just ask the dude! He didn’t care anyway. And he took forever to listen to those tapes. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I would’ve binge listened to them like a lot of us binge watched this show. And everyone talks about that scene at the party; he asked Hannah if she was okay or whatnot, and asked if she needed him to say. She told him to go and that she’s fine. Some people say he was being respectful and accepting what she asked of him. I say that there are times you need to allow someone to consent, like… with sex… the girl should obviously always consent to that. Otherwise it’s rape. But come on, man, can you see the state she was in? She needed help. She needed someone to be there. And you wandered off. You left her alone. Don’t even get me started on his whole unwillingness to be her friend BS when she was being called a slut and shamed at school. Jeez.
  3. It portrayed the results of suicide as a valid way to express yourself post-mortem and dish out vengeance on the ones who hurt you. It did this instead of portraying the results of suicide with how people mourn, hurt and suffer because of one’s death. Viewers only caught brief glimpses of how her parents and loved ones suffered because of their loss. Sure, her former bullies were dished vicious and cold truths and recollections of what had happened… but that’s mostly it.
  4. The book was better. The book is always better.
  5. It is inaccurate, in my experiences of suicide, on how this plays out. I know this is anecdotal. I had a good friend who killed himself a few years ago. There weren’t any tapes or letters. There weren’t any signs. It just happened. And you know what? It sucked. Everyone was hurting. No one understood why. There was no finality or answer to the question we were all demanding: why? We couldn’t find a single reason let alone thirteen.
  6. They promoted the worst parts of depression. The show is basically about blame and guilt. It’s about “She’s dead because persons 1-12 are shitty people” instead of “I want to raise awareness of teen suicide and prevent it.”
  7. The show portrays adults as a bad resource to go to when dealing with and/or noticing depression. The teachers, faculty and adults are all cut out of everything because of their laughable attempts to teach awareness of depression in peers. Viewers who already have difficulty talking with figures of authority or parents may walk away feeling like those individuals are the last people they’ll go to for any help or assistance. The show essentially drove this idea that adults are inept, out of touch and ultimately unable to recognize, guide or help students and youth who are suffering. This is absolutely false. Poor Mr. Porter.
  8. They focused on all these other people and very little about Hannah. Suicide isn’t about other people. Not initially. Depression isn’t about others. It’s about the person considering death, the person that’s drowning in their pain, sadness and solitude. I’m no expert when it comes to these things. I’ve only dealt with it myself over the years and I’ve handled it. It points fingers at these people instead of focusing on how Hannah could be helped, how the ending could have been different.
  9. Did you know Hannah was originally supposed to live? In the book, originally, she was supposed to attempt to OD on pills and have her stomach pumped out. Supposedly, her dying was going to drive a deeper message. Her death, in my opinion, didn’t change the message at all. It still pointed fingers. It still didn’t offer a solution besides driving guilt and this obsessive hunt to figure out how awful all of these twelve people are, and pass secrets and negative opinions, stories and terrible things that got Hannah drowning in depression in the first place.
  10. The show literally broke every recommendation for reporting on suicide. Seriously.
    Don’t sensationalize the suicide.
    Don’t talk about the contents of the suicide note, if there is one.
    Don’t describe the suicide method.
    Report on suicide as a public health issue.
    Don’t speculate why the person might have done it.
    Don’t quote or interview police or first responders about the causes of suicide.
    Describe suicide as “died by suicide” or “completed” or “killed him/herself,” rather than “committed suicide.”
    Don’t glamorize suicide.
  11. I might have already said this, but it essentially glamorizes suicide. Not the death itself; that was gory, brutal and haunting, but rather, it gives viewers the option of reaching a handful of conclusions by watching each episode:
    Suicide is a viable coping mechanism when you feel hopeless or depressed
    It’ll get you the attention you’ve been wanting or seeking
  12. Okay, so this show did do good things for raising awareness of a number of things; rape culture, abuse of alcohol, bullying and suicide. But when it comes to teen suicide, it’s a slippery slope, especially when your goal is to raise awareness within youth. Young people are more prone to what’s called suicide contagion, which is seeing, hearing or reading about suicide puts them at a higher risk of also doing so. While silence doesn’t help anyone, there are ways of talking about it that decreases contagion (see #10). The biggest disappointment was her brutal death. It undermined the whole idea of the show, in my opinion. People have secret pain, like sorrow, grief, depression, loneliness and despair. This show went on for episodes—or tapes, rather—about all the despair Hannah had locked away within her and she beautifully outlines all of these things (at times, she got it wrong though). The gruesome scene was a bad representation of suicide, overly salacious and too much. I don’t think viewers need to see that to understand the impact of one’s suicide.
  13. Ah, yes. Number 13. There were thirteen reasons why, but only twelve people, if I remember right. So, I’ll end this on a brighter note. This show is compelling. It should be. It reaches into the emotional parts of our minds and brings out all sort of understanding for Hannah’s death despite most people’s’ inability to find logic in it. It outlines the stark and brutal difference between kindness and indifference. Both the book and show are moving and reiterating a handful of things viewers should already be well-aware of before starting the first episode: suicide is not a solution, bullying is never okay and our actions impact others in ways we never fully realize. Instead of creating memes or glorifying her death—and I mean, come on, sending those tapes around to get back at people or make them aware in such a secretive, malicious way is counterproductive—reach out to those who need it. Recognize and be aware. The show did a great job portraying high school as it is today; there’s a lot of nastiness, friendships begin and end and there is a ton of gossip and drama. It did a great job explaining how all of that can negatively impact young adults, and the worst consequences of those things. I think for a lot of people who have struggled in that way felt less alone because the show is evidence that they weren’t the only ones to feel that way. Many felt grateful because they didn’t commit to the path that Hannah chose. Ultimately, it was a decent show. I just urge that we tread lightly when talking, dramatizing and writing about these things. Lastly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.