We Need to Talk About '13 Reasons Why'

We Need to Talk About '13 Reasons Why'

The controversial Netflix series has been making waves online.

Neflix’s new original series “13 Reasons Why” features the work of Selena Gomez as executive producer. This series is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel “Thirteen Reasons Why”. Touching on themes of suicide, sexual harassment, slut-shaming, rumors, rape, cyber bullying and more, “13 Reasons Why” seems extremely relevant for today’s youth and parents. Could it offer us some insight into what happens behind closed doors when you are not around and try to stop it?

Watch the trailer below, and continue to the next page to find out more about this new TV series.

SPOILER ALERT: this is a full review of the show and contains details about each episode that may spoil surprises.

“13 Reasons Why” trailer:

Suicide

Suicide is a delicate topic because the ways it is discussed can have a great impact on people’s choices. This show makes it clear that something as simple as making fun of what someone is wearing or something they said can have dire consequences, especially for teenagers.

“13 Reasons Why” manages to explore many factors that may push someone to commit or contemplate suicide. Though the show uses bullying as the primary factor of suicide, that does not apply to everyone. In some cases, depression, mental illness, etc. are the main issues. Although main character Hannah Baker is not terribly “depressed” per se, it’s still clear that BULLYING can really harm someone emotionally and physically.

TRIGGER WARNING: this section features an explicit discussion of suicide.

The mini-series made the controversial yet defining choice to show Hannah committing suicide. Though this was and still remains a very controversial decision, the producers clearly felt it was necessary to get their point across. The scene is agonizing to watch, as if you were there with her and wanted to make it stop. Many viewers very upset to see Hannah actually cutting her wrists. Some saw this less as “suicide prevention” than as a “how-to guide”.

Lessons Learned

Though this is a tough lesson to get across, we feel it was an important and defining move for the show’s creators to put suicide in the spotlight. If you know something about a friend or a loved one in your life, there is no shame in getting help.

There is a scene in “13 Reason Why” when everything comes together. One of Hannah’s friends, Tony, finally reveals to her parents her secrets. Apologizing to them, he says that “no one should ever experience what she did”. It meant that asking for help or telling someone what’s going on is the right thing to do, and if someone had done it sooner maybe they could have saved her.

Asking for Help

Two scenes in the show are meant to teach listeners how to know someone is crying for help. In the scene below, a teacher at Hannah’s school reads out an anonymous letter Hannah wrote: “What if the only way not to feel bad is to stop feeling anything at all forever?” That is a direct cry for help.

After reading the letter, the teacher informed the class that there are places to get help. As a peer, trying to find out who exactly wrote it would have been an extra step to helping that person.

The New School Culture

For those of us who have kids who might be experiencing difficulties, the show demonstrates the culture of today’s adolescents in school. The tension, the pressure of fitting in and being accepted by others, is more omnipresent than ever, thanks to technology.

In some of the party scenes, Hannah tries to fit in with the “cool” kids. She genuinely tries caring for her peers, but they all seem to turn on her for their own gains. Whether to protect a secret they didn’t want people to know, or to look good, they seem to lie, deceive and betray her. There was never any acceptance given to her and all she was doing was looking for it.

This insight could be extremely valuable to parent in today’s digital age. Knowledge of what kids are going through at school, and what types of pressures, harassment and rejection they feel, could mean the difference between having a conversation and leaving a distressed teen to their own devices.

Even though is there is controversy on how “13 Reasons Why” addresses suicide, it still opens up the eyes to a lot of young adults out there. Should it be shown in schools as an anti-bullying campaign? Should parents watch it in order to be better informed? Despite the ending scene and the general intensity and vulgarity of the show in general, we think it offers valuable insight that should not be ignored.

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