The biggest buzz on Netflix recently has been the seemingly controversial series “13 Reasons Why,” which is based on the best-selling book by Jay Asher. In short, the tale tells the timeline leading up to the suicide of the main narrator, Hannah Baker.
After cramming 13 hours of Netflix into my already busy end-of-the-year schedule, I realized this show has a lot more to say about suicide, mental illness and bullying than I expected.
First off, I am not one who has suffered from mental illness and suicidal tendencies, or even bullying for that matter. I could not imagine the feelings of those who have had to cope with these issues. I have, however, seen people in my life struggle with these issues which have impacted my take on life and controversial topics like mental illness, suicide and bullying.
One of the most prominent arguments throughout the show was whether or not the people on the tape were to blame for her death. I believe that suicide is a personal choice, no matter the influence of the people surrounding you. Others cannot be blamed for the decisions you make. They can have an impact, but they are not the sole decider.
On numerous occasions Hannah wanted someone to “chase” or “follow” her to show that they care. That is unfair to blame them for contributing to her choice of suicide because they did not do what she wanted. They could not read her mind. How could anyone know what is expected of them when it isn’t said?
This is where I think seeking help comes into play. Though Hannah went to her school counselor, she did not tell him what exactly was bothering her which lead to him being unable to help. How can you expect someone to help you if you don’t tell them what is going on? Her counselor was trying to help.
I realize telling the truth about the hardships in your life are not easy. I am no expert, but seeking help the beginning you are experiencing something detrimental, the easier it can be to resolve current issues and future ones.
The show also fails to properly show the amount of resources that are available for those struggling with mental illness. School counselors may not be the most comfortable people to talk to, probably why Hannah didn’t share her experiences.
If the shows purpose was to bring awareness to these issues, it needed to address the many ways to overcome the difficulties rather than focusing on what may cause them.
Hannah was not so innocent herself. More than once I noticed her saying certain things to others that were off-putting and potentially hurtful.
Saying that she could have done more to help herself is not an excuse for the actions of those around her. It’s not hard to be a decent human being. It takes zero effort to mind your own business and keep your opinions to yourself.
Keep in mind that we have no idea what others are going through, despite if they’ve sought help or not. The smallest comments and actions could have more of an impact than you may think. In Hannah’s case especially, the buildup of little things added more torment to the larger aspects.
Though it was important for Hannah to get the word out about the impact people’s words and actions can have, her tapes were not that helpful. Many of the others who listened to the tapes and were coping with the repercussions became mentally unstable and in a state of constant distress. One of the characters even attempted suicide to relieve themselves of the pain the tapes caused.
I think the main take aways from this are to be a decent human being, seek help if you are struggling with mental illness and that suicide in itself is nobody’s fault. It is that person’s decision and we couldn’t stop them, but we could take preventive measures to make sure that our actions do not put someone else in that situation.
Photo via Netflix