I’ve been hearing a lot of conflicted feedback about the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. There are some who think it glorifies suicide. I simply don’t see how that’s the lesson you walk away with after watching this series. For me, it does not glorify teen suicide, but rather, does the exact opposite – punches you in the face with the reality of how violent suicide is, and how it affects the people you leave behind.
When I was 12 years old I felt uncomfortable in my body, and was bullied. My thoughts became quite dark, and I started thinking of ways I could kill myself. I started spending my time reading books, trying to figure out what would be the least painful way to do it. Thankfully I had an amazing friend who knew I was struggling, spoke with our school counselor, who immediately contacted my parents. My mother wasted no time in getting me into therapy – which I believe saved my life.
If school boards, parents, or other adults feel that “13 Reasons Why” sensationalizes suicide then I feel like they didn’t quite pay attention to the words of the story and are hung up on the fact that Hannah made these tapes, and killed herself. Sure that’s the basic plot line of this story – but there is SO much more beneath that which provide a fantastic opportunity to have discussions about relevant topics. If there are adults who think this series has messages which teens can misunderstand – then USE IT as a teaching opportunity.
If you think that Hannah did not seek help before committing suicide you obviously weren’t paying attention, or didn’t watch the entire series. Hannah DID seek help from her school counselor – who did not take her words seriously. Also, when she told him she was raped, he questioned whether she had consented then changed her mind after she had sex. He attempted to take those words back – but those words put doubt into her mind, which stopped her from telling her truth.
I’m sure school counselors wouldn’t react the way the one did in this story. I would like to think that they all would take a teen’s words to heart. The fact that Hannah’s counselor did not take her seriously isn’t included in the story in order to make counselors look bad – it’s included so that we could see what it looks like when a teen seeks help but isn’t taken seriously, which then inspires a conversation about what to do if you DO seek help but don’t get it. To any teen or adult reading this – if you confide in someone, and they don’t take you seriously, DO NOT STOP. Go to someone else. Keep talking to people until you are heard, and helped.
However, if a teen doesn’t seek help we can’t BLAME the victim by saying, “she didn’t seek help”. There are a lot of teens (and adults) who don’t seek help. Starting a conversation about drugs, alcohol, sex, rape, consent, or mental health can be extremely uncomfortable. So, how about as adults we pay better attention and start those conversations.
In order to teach kids to talk about the hard stuff, we need to lead by example and stop shying away from talking about hard topics.
I think teens 14+ could benefit from watching this series with their parents/guardians – having discussions after each episode. This story covered a wide variety of realistic situations concerning drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, consent, rape, mental health. Why not use this as a tool to spur a learning lesson?
If you don’t have the courage to talk to your parents, or teacher, or counselor, or principal – start by talking to a friend. Write a letter and give it to a parent or teacher. Don’t suffer in silence. Seek help. You can even talk to your family Doctor, go to a clinic, or emergency room.
Kid’s Help Phone (Canada) 1-800-668-6868
To the teens who are struggling with bullying, mental health, or having suicidal thoughts – I’ve been there. I’ve been in your shoes. I know you might be thinking “they’ll be better off without me”, “no one will miss me”. You are WRONG. You will be missed. You are important. IT GETS BETTER.
I’m now 36 years old, married to my best friend, with two beautiful children. I love my job working as an Educational Assistant. I love to read, write, create, volunteer, go for walks, or Pokemon hunting with my kids. Some days suck. Sometimes life is really tough – but for the most part it’s real good 😉
I know it can be hard. But I promise you, it honestly, truly, really, does get better.
Help Hotlines for Kids, Teens & Women
Suicide, Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse, LGBT, Runaways, Bullying & More
Up to date Hotlines & Helplines and Resources for: Suicide, Child Abuse, (Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect) Bullying, Cyberbullying, Runaways, Rape, Domestic Abuse, LGBT, Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia), Self-Esteem, Body Image, Teen Pregnancy, Self-Injury (cutting), Sex, Drugs, Peer Pressure, Puberty, Family problems, Depression, Anxiety, Bad Grades. Or just because Kids or Teens need someone to talk to, ask advice or help for any problem you are facing. The volunteers at these hotlines really do care & want to help you. Find your country and choose the best hotline for you.
If you are a teen who has watched “13 Reasons Why” and you haven’t talked to an adult about it yet – do that today please! This is the ice-breaker that will allow you to have AMAZING conversations.
Feel free to email me if you want to talk. I’m all ears.