September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month. To honor the theme, I checked out the Netflix series exclusive: 13 Reasons Why.
13 Reasons Why starts with the voice of Hannah Baker, (Katherine Langford), detailing the 13 reasons (people) she has chosen to take her own life. This narrative takes place on 13 audio cassette tapes that were given to (or will be passed on) to the 13 people who caused her such distress.
The journey chronicles Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) on his quest to find out what happened to his crush, what he could’ve done and what he can do now.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT
The show, co-produced by Selena Gomez and her mother, touches on a lot of tough subjects. It hits hard but does it miss the point? Maybe a little…
The acting is well done. The story telling in engaging and… two things don’t sit well with me.
The first problem I have with it is Hannah Baker takes zero responsibility for her actions.
Even in the end, when she says she’s going to give life one more chance… if so and so doesn’t do this, then it’s over. What? Most people are not mind readers.
This person did this to me, that person did that and no one cared, enough. As if that’s all it took to prevent someone from suicide. I think when a person gets to that place, it’s much like someone with an addiction. No matter what you do, it’s ultimately up to the person themselves to make sure they are safe.
It’s stated a couple of times throughout the show that Hannah is the one responsible for Hannah’s death, no one else. I’m sorry but mentioning that a few times throughout a series when each episode is dedicated to a person or reason for her suicide is not enough. Sure everyone could have done more. And know what? It probably wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic.
Survivors of suicide have more than enough guilt without having the dead loved one come back and point a finger at them.
The part that especially ticked me off was when Clay confronted Tony and asked “Am I the reason Hannah killed herself” and he said yes. What bullshit is that? She even said so on the tape, “Clay you shouldn’t even be on these tapes”. I guess I have to chalk that up to needing ratings? Cliffhangers?
I understand the stigma around suicide and I’m not saying Hannah should be shamed for what she did but people, blaming everyone else for our own misery isn’t the answer either.
The second problem I have with the series is that when a suicide happens, an explanation is a luxury. Many times there are no answers. I know that in this case, for there to have been a series, there had to be a story but it gives a false expectation of death…
My sister did not commit suicide, she died from an accidental overdose. All that was left was speculation. There was no ongoing relationship, no instructions or list of reasons why she was gone. I understand the difference, she didn’t know she wasn’t going to wake up but this show, it explores in depth why she did what she did and it gave the illusion of being able to work through the problems and make people… be better?
That’s not how it works.
This series was very emotional. Its heart was in the right place, I just don’t know where the brains were.
If you do feel depressed and need help:
Call- 1-844-550-HERO (4376)