If you’ve been anywhere on social media in the last couple of weeks you have most likely seen the polarizing opinions about a new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The opinions range from complete support and raving reviews to pure hatred and utter disgust. At first, I said I wouldn’t watch this show. Suicide is too close to me and I didn’t want to watch it. However, after seeing so many opposite reviews I decided that I needed to view this show from the eye of someone who has been personally affected by suicide.
I cleared my mind and turned on episode 1. I told myself to watch with all sides in mind. I wanted to see this from the side of someone so hopeless that suicide is the only option. I wanted to see this from the side of someone left behind when someone else chooses suicide. I wanted to see this from the side of someone who has never dealt with these topics and is simply searching for a way to talk to their child about bullying and suicide.
The premise of this show began to unfold and I watched as the tapes made by Hannah, the main character, start to reveal the 13 people/reasons behind her decision to end her own life. She chronicles hurt feelings, betrayal from friends, stalking, bullying, cyber-bullying, and eventually rape as the things that push her into a pit of hopelessness that is too deep to climb out of… eventually leading to her suicide.
First, if you or someone you know is depressed and actually considering suicide…. DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW. If you have a teenager who is fragile, DO NOT LET THEM WATCH THIS SHOW.
Every single thing in this show is a trigger. From the way the main character makes her 13 tapes and blames everyone in them for her depression and eventual suicide, to the very visual and real rape scenes and eventual suicide scene.
In episode 1, I was physically nauseous from the concept of how this show was made. In episode 11, I sobbed quietly as I watched a boy who loved Hannah fall apart while thinking he didn’t love her enough to keep her around. In episodes 12 and 13 I saw violent rape scenes, more blaming of people, and finally, the actual scenes of this girl slitting her wrists.
This girl was bullied. She was raped. She witnessed a rape. She was called a slut. She lost friends, but she still tried to impress this group of people who tormented her.
She was a victim. And in turn, she turned everyone else into victims.
This boy who loved her listened to “his tape” and fell apart. He asked his friend, “did I kill Hannah Baker?” To which the friend replied, “We all let her down.” This boy sobbed, he stood at the edge of a cliff and contemplated jumping because he didn’t love her enough to help her. Hannah manipulated him. She made him think that her death was somehow his fault, simply because she didn’t feel like she was good enough for him and because he didn’t notice her signs.
This show was the most emotionally damaging show I have watched. I cannot imagine allowing my vulnerable teenager to watch this show and use it as a compass for how to properly behave. I cannot imagine telling someone who is emotionally damaged to watch this show and use it as a way to heal. For someone who has never personally dealt with depression or suicide, this is a fluff show that, from the outside, seems good. For those of us who have actually dealt with this in real life, this show is everything that should be avoided.
I had such a yucky feeling after watching this. I stood in the shower and sobbed. My heart feeling beaten, my spirit feeling crushed. This was a difficult show to watch, not because it is a difficult topic to discuss but because it was portrayed in a way that was not helpful. It was not healing. The effects of this show will be in my heart for a long time to come, and not in a way that makes me a better person. In a way that adds one more scar to my already scarred heart.
I spent 20 years wondering if I could have done something to prevent my dad from killing himself. I thought if I loved him more, or harder, or if I had seen him in the last months before he died, I could have stopped it.
The truth is that, like Hannah in 13 Reasons Why, my dad manipulated people. He took his circumstances, threatened to kill himself so that people would give into his demands, and then moved onto the next victim. Until eventually his threat became real and he killed himself. The difference is that Hannah manipulated people after she died.
Suicide is real. Suicide is heavy. Suicide leaves in its wake so much hurt and pain.
Suicide is selfish. And yet, those who choose suicide see it as unselfish.
Suicide is an end for someone who thinks they have no other options.
Suicide should never be an option… and yet it is.
Suicide is NEVER the fault of someone else. And yet, others can lead to the feelings that push someone into the despair that makes them feel like suicide is the only option.
Suicide is not 13 Reasons Why. And yet, this series has become the face of a topic that deserves so much more.
If you have a child who you think needs to see this show… TALK to your child instead. Do not allow this series to have, with your child, the discussions that you should be having with your child.
Talk to your child about bullying – being a bully and being a victim.
Talk to your child about the power of words – of saying and not saying them. Because both situations have the power to change someone’s day or life.
Talk to your child about suicide – about recognizing the signs in someone else and about what to do if they feel suicide is their only option.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD.