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.
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