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What 13 Reasons Why Can Teach Adults and Teens

Every parent group across the internet has been abuzz about the recently renewed 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. MANY have been sharing how they think that is glorifies teenage suicide, rape, drug use, and other things we would rather shelter our fragile children from. I get it. This is not a show for anyone who hasn’t emerged on the other side of puberty and lived to tell the tale. However, 13 Reasons is an extremely important story to tell and hiding ourselves and children from it will not make it go away. 

The Background

In case you have been living under a rock, or your Wi-Fi has been turned off, here is a quick synopsis of the series.

Hannah Baker is the new girl in town. She has a hard time fitting in the way that she wants to because every time she gets close to someone SOMETHING happens. These somethings become her 13 reasons for committing suicide.

When she chooses to take her own life, in place of the cliche note, she records 13 cassette tapes explaining each of her reasons and calling out the people who caused her pain. The kicker is only the people mentioned on the tapes {and one trusted individual} are initially given access to the information.

Why It’s Important

When a person is contemplating suicide they don’t think about the carnage they are leaving in their wake. They are thinking about finding a way to escape their pain. From where they are suffering, the escape that suicide provides is the only solution that they can see. 

This series lets you see the other side of suicide.

Audience members get to see what the main character never could – what happens after you die. Death, like anything else, has consequences.

Aspects of 13 Reasons that are causing the most uproar are the graphic and uncomfortable situations that become Hannah’s reasons and the perceived “glorification” of suicide. While I agree that it is uncomfortable to watch multiple acts of rape, abuse, and bullying {both cyber and in person} I think that it is naive to believe that this type of behavior isn’t happening in real life.

We are shown that the way that you treat someone, for better or worse, can have a serious impact on their life. It shows that when someone chooses to take their life that there are reasons…and you might be one of them. It shows that being a kind person to someone you may barely know could be a life-changing moment where they feel that there is a reason to keep going. You don’t always have to choose to be cruel because it is the popular thing to do.

But mostly it is important because it shows the destruction that can be left in the wake of your suicide.

I Didn’t Cry

…with the exception of one tape.

Clay’s.

I won’t spoil it for you, but Clay’s tape was worlds different than all the others. The purpose of it was different. Clay himself was a different person than the rest of the subjects which keeps you guessing for the entire series. 

It’s a Trigger

In scene-after-scene, 13 Reasons offers up triggering imagery and discussion. If you are someone who is effected by this then by all means, do not watch. 

While I have not gone through all of the same problems as Hannah and company, I had my own set of issues growing up. Watching Hannah Baker’s story unfold at times reminded me of myself.

  • When you are in the middle of the crowd, but feel completely alone. 
  • When you feel like just your existence is a burden on those you care about.
  • When you ask for help, but you don’t get any.

How We Move Forward

Be open and be nice because words matter. How we treat others matters. Be aware of those around you.  Someone may not be running around with a sign declaring that they are depressed and suicidal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t asking for help.

If you don’t know the signs read up on them

Now reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and let them know you are thinking about them. A text, phone call, or Facebook post can go a long way.

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2 Responses to What 13 Reasons Why Can Teach Adults and Teens

  1. J. Ivy Boyter May 19, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    I haven’t watched this, but thinking about it now. Great post!

  2. Bri - Halfpint Design May 19, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    Wow. I haven’t seen it either but I am intrigued. This is a huge issue in society and any tools we have to help make the subject more approachable are welcome. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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