Growing up a suicidal teen, I have to say that I like 13 Reasons Why. Most hate it because of the triggering and graphic content along with many other reasons that people have continuously expressed on social media. I am here to say that I find the book and TV show to be empowering. Here me out. I am not telling people that it is empowering to convince us to go kill ourselves, it is empowering for the way the show convinces people not to kill themselves.
When I watched the show, I fell into a depression funk, as I always do with anything about suicide. I fell back into the depressed and anxiety ridden girl I was in high school. However, as the show progressed, I felt a sense of peace continuing to grow over me. I felt a peace that I had made it through many of the issues that caused Hannah to be so weak and kill herself. I made it to college. I made it out. I understand that there are plenty of high school students, and younger, who may be watching this show and think that the way out of any of these issues is to kill yourself. I understand that this is how the message may be construed, but I believe the show does a great job of informing all the age ranges involved that suicide can be prevented.
My parents watched the show, and let me tell you how gut wrenching it is to hear my dad comment, “When she slit her wrists and seeing the parents’ reaction, it breaks my heart every time just thinking about it,” every time we bring up the show. I feel guilty. I almost caused them to be the Baker parents, and that just destroys me. One of the perks of how the book is presented through the show is that it is eye opening to parents and peers. Learning what life is like after you commit suicide for everyone around you and your family really helps to keep someone from going to that extreme. Yes, at the time someone is killing themselves, they are not too worried about what people will think or how people will react afterwards. They are just trying to kill themselves. But this can help prevent them from going as far as killing themselves, if they see the show before it’s too late for their mentality to change. The show also provides ways for people to check themselves and stop being so self-centered to notice that they are hurting people through their actions even if they do not know it.
13 Reasons Why relates very well to the common young person of 2017 and provides actual examples of issues that stress us to the point of breaking. We notice that even the “little” things led up to her choice. This show is here to make us finally start to accept the blame for our actions. We make the choice to be kind or mean. Finally, people are able to see what their actions can do to someone, when otherwise they would not know what their actions are doing at the time. I am not trying to put all the blame on other people. Hannah made her choice. Do not get that wrong.
We have these specific ways in which professionals say that we should go about handling a suicidal situation. Many people criticize the show for being too graphic and triggering. I think that it is a wake-up call. I am well versed in the ways that professionals feel we should do to prevent suicidal thoughts. We are told how we are supposed to act and to have a safety net of people to go to. The problem is that these professionals are so rehearsed in saying what to do and what not to do, that they do not know what may actually work for some. The show was eye opening. This show is a suicide prevention method. Ever notice that these professionals have these methods, but people are still killing themselves? Yeah, well that could be because it does not work. Their methods probably really do work for some people, but maybe this show is a method that can work for those ones that the professionals could not reach through their methods. Maybe some people need that violent imagery to wake up and realize they could not do that to themselves, or their family and friends.
So many times, Hannah looked for one reason to keep going. One reason to get the help that she needed. This really brings me to the 13th reason why, Dr. Porter. Being in a position that Hannah was in before, I can understand how trying to get help and actually getting help can be two opposite ends of a spectrum. I know when I asked my mom to get help and start going to therapy, it did not work. First, I was pushed, by my therapist, to get drugs to make me “normal,” leading me to distrust her less because of the drug-happy world in which we live because drug corporations just want money. I saw her as a corporate monkey trying to get my money. Second, I could not fully trust her because I knew if I mentioned that I want to hurt myself or kill myself, then the consequences would be me getting hauled off to a mental hospital, having to stop my life for however long because I could not just talk through the feelings with my therapist. Then, when I was in a mental hospital, we sat around, getting drugged up, just to bide our time. We’d say the right things just to get out and get back to our lives. I felt as if I had no one to talk to without repercussions that would hinder me trying to move on from the suicidal emotions I was feeling. Hannah experienced all of this without it being shown. She struggled knowing the repercussions of getting help in the way that I personally attempted to get help. Then, when Hannah decided to give life one last chance, Dr. Porter told her to get over it, and when she got more serious, he started to push the repercussions she had been so afraid of.
Ever since we were little, everyone says world peace is a priority. If we want world peace so bad, then we need to take responsibility for our actions and stop treating others so terribly. We need to see this show as a way to understand our peers and the struggles we may not know someone is going through. We need to see the show as an alternate form of treatment for some people instead of the professional methods that may not have worked for them. This show is not a bad thing. This show is reality, and I commend the writers and producers and actors for making this as relatable and time-relevant as can be.