The Netflix original show “Thirteen Reasons Why”, based on the book by Jay Asher, recently released its first season. The premise of the show is that a girl, Hannah Baker, records 13 reasons for her suicide on tapes before she kills herself, and sets up a plan to make sure each “reason” hears what they and all other 12 “reasons” did to cause her to take her own life. The show is gripping and emotional, even hard to watch at times, but I believe it is powerful because takes the daily struggle of being a high schooler and brings a fresh and impactful reality to it.
My mom finished the show shortly after I did. On one of our walks, we spent a full three miles discussing the show: how true it is to actual high school environments as well as actual teen suicides. My mom argued that a healthy person should be able to see a future past the horrors that occurred in Hannah’s life, and the show did not do a good job of showing that she must have been mentally ill at the same time as experiencing all of this in order to take her own life. To build on this case, professionals in mental illness believe that the show will increase teens suicide rates, according to NBC News. This is because teenagers watching the show who have experienced similar things as the character Hannah Baker could see the show as justification for suicide, because Hannah is painted in a prominently positive light compared to the other characters of the show. This glorifies her actions of revenge, when in reality the act of suicide is never an okay option.
However, I don’t think this was the intention in creating the show. Behind the tapes and the suicide, something very real was depicted. Each character in the show had their own struggles, their own stories. I watched them each be hurt by someone, and go on to hurt others. They were all a cause of the problem and they were all victims of it. This truth is goes beyond the show into our own reality.
In our society, each of us can hide behind screens, and say things we would never say to a person’s face without feeling slightly bad about them. If there’s a singular thing to take away from the show, it is to realize that going out of your way to be kind can have exponentially positive effect on someone’s attitude towards life. The little things you do to people do matter. Nothing is worth making another person hate themselves, or hate their lives. Be bold enough to use your time here to spread love – it might just give a person with 13 reasons to die, one to live.