It’s been a few weeks since the binge-worthy season of “13 Reasons Why” aired on Netflix. I’ve been wanting to write about it, have thought about writing about it, and read others writing about it since it aired. (And yes, I binged it. Hardcore. The whole season in less than a weekend – for me that’s intense.)
There is a lot of speculation that the idea of suicide being a way of revenge on those who have wronged Hannah may be dangerous to people who are feeling suicidal. This article by NBC News actually does a nice job at addressing the concerns that are relevant in the show.
I can’t say that I have ever been to a place in my life where I truly contemplated suicide. I think that every person experiences the feeling of being exasperated with life and the daily struggles. Sometimes there is even a thought – even if just fleeting – that we wish life would just stop. That’s something Hannah states in “13 Reasons Why”. She wishes life would just stop. Don’t we all sometimes?
I used to talk about how I wish I could take a vacation from my life and myself. A day, a week – my memory would be wiped of the daily problems that go on, and I wouldn’t have a worry in the world. My mind wouldn’t constantly flutter to the anxious thoughts that sometimes haunt me, and I wouldn’t overthink anything because there wouldn’t be anything to overthink. It would be just me – on a beach somewhere – meeting people and myself for the first time. I know – it doesn’t really make sense because the person that I am would still surface, but just to take a short reprieve from life like we do when we sleep would be fantastic.
So I get it, Hannah. Sometimes we need things to stop. (No, I am not condoning or encouraging suicide here, please don’t get the wrong idea.) I’m saying that this show was shockingly relatable to anyone if you really look inside yourself.
There are so many topics that I would like to tackle when talking about this show. I don’t think one post would suffice. There is a lot of controversy circling around the graphic depiction of Hannah’s suicide and rape. Does this show glorify suicide? No. I don’t think so. I have a very good friend who has attempted suicide, and while the show could be a “trigger” for one who is already feeling suicidal, she said for her, it was not a trigger because it was a past feeling.
I watched the suicide scene twice because I wanted to mark down the times of some of the more triggering scenes for my friend, and both times I had to look away. I think that’s the point of the graphic depiction of Hannah’s suicide. It’s supposed to be hard to watch. I read – or watched – somewhere that this show is aimed at those who may have friends or family who are suicidal or going through a tough time. We don’t always understand what a person is going through in life. I know I have often felt that way about people. They have NO idea what is going on in my life or my head, so how can they judge me? I know people have felt and thought this way towards me.
First of all, when Hannah first takes that razor blade and drags it along her arm, breaking the skin and spilling forth blood, I cringed. Her reaction is that it is agonizing. I had to look away because just the thought of it was agonizing. I have never been able to watch her finish the cutting because it is so gruesome that is makes me nauseous.
That isn’t even the part that really sticks in my head, though.
It’s the slowing of her breath as she bleeds out and the bathwater turns pink. There is no precious montage of her life or flashes of familiar faces. It’s just Hannah, alone, and I imagine her body starting to feel cold from the loss of blood even though her bathwater may be warm. I imagine the euphoric feeling I’m sure must happen after the pain subsides because your body goes into shock. (I am really not sure about all of this, but it’s what I imagine from watching the show and what I have read.)
To me, watching Hannah take her last breaths alone – quietly, the scene not rushing through or skipping over to when she is found by her mother – is terrifying. That is the image that has stayed with me for weeks.
I’m 30, and many mental health experts are saying that this show glorifies suicide in the minds of young adolescents. (Click here for more information) Maybe that is true? I teach 8th graders, and I know that their minds are not fully developed yet. If anything, this show has taught me to keep a closer eye on my students who seem withdrawn or I know are going through something tough. Perhaps my age has made me more removed from the situation. I’m not an expert, but I think that this show has gotten a lot of us talking. And maybe it’s just the observation and talking that needs to start.