I Felt Numb After Watching 13 Reasons Why

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For those of you who have been living under a rock with Patrick Star, Selena Gomez has produced a Netflix original series — an adaptation of the Jay Asher novel, 13 Reasons Why. The entire plot revolves around suicide. If you are sensitive to this issue, consider this a trigger warning, in which case, please do not read on. Also *SPOILER ALERT* if you haven’t seen/completed the show.

This post is a response to this article written by a psychotherapist.

Hannah shouldn’t have focused on seeking revenge which was her aim, and she shouldn’t have pushed people away and expected them to run after her. That was definitely wrong of her.

I completely agree that this show makes it harder to realize the permanence of death since Hannah has a voice and flashbacks in the show, and that might be dangerous for teens watching. But I don’t agree that this show is saying she blames everyone else for her death, even though the show is called 13 Reasons Why. From my understanding, all these problems obviously hurt her and had a huge impact on her life, and her not communicating these issues and giving others more of a chance to hear her out, was a dire mistake. But from the interview special episode, you understand that she doesn’t want to bother anyone with her problems and she frankly doesn’t think anyone cares enough. She basically felt alone going through all of this and this is why she says in the show “some of you cared… none of you cared enough.” The point of the tapes was to show everyone how much of an impact their actions had on her. She didn’t think anyone loved her so she killed herself. I watched multiple videos on YouTube from people who went through depression and I understood that some people who do contemplate suicide don’t think they are taken seriously or have friends who would care enough if they told them about their depression. So as a result, they think that maybe people will understand the seriousness of their issues if they just ended their life. Obviously everyone doesn’t think this way, but there certainly are people in the real world who feel this way, and Hannah was a representation of this.

You’re forgetting this isn’t some sort of PSA video. Despite the “recommendations” from the Reporting on Suicide site, the entire show is about the topic of suicide in a high school setting , so of course it’s going to discuss how the suicide was done (because when are high school kids politically correct?), why it was done and contents of the note (what’s the name of the show called again?), etc.

All the tiny things and the terrible things adding up put a lot of stress and pain on her heart. And yes Hannah did care too much about what others thought of her, and that is a flaw of hers, but then again, so many high school kids in real life are vulnerable like that. Maybe the others weren’t going through as much as her, or they were more vocal about their emotions, which Hannah wasn’t. It’s a bunch of things combined.

Everyone else in the show was going through their own share of problems too, but that doesn’t justify their lack of morality. I mean Justin was a jerk. Bryce was too. Jess and Alex could have communicated dating or at least still talked to Hannah rather than leaving her. They were her only friends at the time. Hannah did do a bad thing by making those tapes most of the people hated for it, which was clearly seen from the character’s reactions. I don’t see what consequence she could have now that she is already dead. Other than the tapes, Hannah never did anything remotely as rude to hurt anyone despite all she was going through. She never raped or assaulted anyone. Sure she was kind of impatient and snappy, which is normal when you go through something like she did. The other characters let their personal issues make them into monsters because they didn’t know how to cope.

Why was it so graphic? You can forward through it if you don’t want to watch it, just as I did. It’s disturbing of course (it is rated accordingly as MA). Watch the interview special with the cast and producers. But the reason they did that is to make us feel in the moment and understand to some small extent what she is feeling. Most people who watched the show and haven’t dealt with depression etc. felt bad throughout the whole show, but in the last 3 episodes, they cried because they could understand the pain to some small extent as an outsider. Kind of like when watching horror movies, someone is getting stabbed and you may feel like you are the one in pain as you watch. Of course, this show will impact everyone in different ways. The graphic content may be seen as basically a “tutorial” to someone contemplating suicide, but to others, it helps us understand that we need to be there for those who are in pain. Watching the scene makes us feel so disturbed that it clicks with us that we never want anyone in our lives to do that to themselves. Also the attention after her death wasn’t meant to tell people “commit suicide because everyone starts caring about you after.” It’s not like new people started caring about her later. The people who cared even the slightest bit before, still cared after her death but the guilt heightened it. They now know the severity of what she was going through after the suicide, which could also be achieved if she told Clay or someone else about everything she was going through. Sure, they could have offered options in the show like the suicide hotline, which they did in the special interview episode which was an analysis of the show, but the point of having ignorant characters and parents was so the viewers understand not to do the same. It’s meant to show that suicide shouldn’t be an option. It’s all about how you interpret it and what mindset you are in when watching it. The producers and writers can’t make everyone who watches happy. They had an idea in mind and went with it, but everyone can interpret it differently and take what they want from the show. So any show is going to hurt someone.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. How would you respond to the article below? Share this article on social media so we can start an open discussion.

IG: @rafafarihah

8 thoughts on “I Felt Numb After Watching 13 Reasons Why

  1. I’m halfway through it. I agree that it depends on a person’s mindset at to whether it portrays suicide in a way that detaches death from the infinite end (due to her getting her story out after death). However I think that what it does do very well, is to reinforce the importance of empathy and thinking of others. I know my niece and her friends (all 13) loved it and hope this helps them think about looking out for each other. Oh, and boys (and men) seeing that there are boundaries that should not be crossed and objectifying women can have such a detrimental affect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you. I think the main point of the show was to get people thinking about the impact of their actions on others, and thinking from others’ perspectives. It was also meant to show that although you may not think it, there are people who care soo much about you. More than you can imagine. It was not, however, meant to portray women as weak, and glamorize suicide.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard that many parents are worried about their teens watching this show, as for some it certainly can glamourize the act of suicide and the revenge aspect of blaming others and seeing the reactions of those who are being blamed. Not all teenagers have the wherewithal or patience to write out a variety of letters or reasons; they simply want to put themselves out of misery and are not in a blaming state of mind. If anything, its the worry that they will hurt loved ones, that many out off ending their lives.

    While I haven’t seen the show, I do think all parents should be made aware of this show. It could very easily be a trigger for some teens, who see the attention the departed character is getting and possibly crave that as part of their exit strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree with you, but Hannah wasn’t trying to blame anyone. She wanted to know how they impacted her and hurt her. I mean what revenge can she give them after being dead. Other than making them feel bad, she couldn’t have expected what their reaction would have been. She didn’t think someone would shoot themselves over it, and she didn’t know her parents would end up suing the school, etc. Also it is a police investigation and there was a suicide. Tapes or no tapes, people will talk and there will be attention. Doesn’t mean we can’t make movies about awareness. Everything and anything will trigger someone or another. People make horror films and slasher films. Has anyone thought of the attention murderers are getting with in these films and shows? This might cause more people to want to get that kind of attention too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would say that this show is a great way to start the topic of bullying and mental illness to youths. These are pressing issues that concern teenagers and the topics are such taboo. Thus, kudos to the producers for allowing the movement to happen in the first place. For allowing teens to care for others and understand that their actions have an effect on others be it big or small.

    However, I would definitely want to mention that the show did not portray several aspects of mental illness well. Hannah was bullied and it affected her in a lot of manners. But, the show was unable to indicate her depression and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. One does not just kill him/herself just because of bullying. There need to be underlying problems that triggered them over the edge. That aspect is something that the show needs to be improved on. Furthermore, they did not show her PTSD after she was raped by Bryce. That is a great factor that led to her suicide. The show needs to portray on what Hannah felt or went through especially her mental illness.

    Other than that, I would say that it is a great read! Much love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you. I get so emotionally attached to characters that I probably filled in the blanks and felt the emotions that she was probably feeling, without the show portraying it. But most people want the whole thing to be clearly shown, so they can understand her actions well, which makes sense.

      But yes, this definitely opened a lot of eyes and got the limelight in the social atmosphere. Maybe it was after this show that I notices a lot more murders and suicides in the media, but I feel like there definitely have been a lot since it came out. What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

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