Written by: James Deshommes
Warning: Spoilers ahead as well as harsh sensitive material subject matter dealing with suicide and sexual assault.
Well, where do I begin? I’ve heard and seen articles written about Netflix’s most controversial show to date 13 Reasons Why and what the show did or did not do right. But I’m not here to discuss that, as there will be plenty of blogs or articles that will conjure up those topics.
For those that don’t know 13 Reasons Why is a show about a young teen in high school who has seen everyone in her life failed her miserably in all sorts of ways. She has been bullied, slut-shamed, sexually assaulted, raped, ignored, stalked, and a whole host of numerous horrendous trauma she went through that ultimately led to her suicide. But before she died she left behind 13 tapes specifically detailing how 13 people in her life lead to her death.
It would be terribly easy for me to take the easy route and just explain details of the Netflix series and tell you to see the show but it’s so much more to it than that. The show holds nothing back when detailing the rape scenes that take place as well the graphic detailing of the suicide in the final episode. Hannah Baker is the main character of the show and what she went through is what many teens and young adults go through. It shows the hell of being in H.S. when you are not the popular kid or the jock. Her one and only saving grace Clay Jensen who is her closest friend couldn’t even save her at a certain point because she was past the breaking point having lost all value in her life after all she has faced. No one was able to hear her silent cry, not her parents, or even the school counselor. As the show gets deeper into Hannah’s story you begin to see that she wasn’t alone in fighting battles as her friend Jessica gets raped by the same guy that ultimately destroyed her and her other friend from the beginning Alex shot himself because of the pain of it all was absolutely too much to bare. So the ripple effects were indeed felt from the fallout of her demise.
The producers of the show took it as their honor and duty to depict this story as real as they possibly can to pay homage to all of the beautiful souls who suffered just as Hannah did and who took their own lives. I admit the show was unbelievably painful to watch especially towards the last few episodes, I even paused debating whether to continue watching it. Holding back emotions as I watch a young teen have no one to rely on to get through her nightmare was heartbreaking, to say the least, insanely gut wrenching! It’s not until she dies and everyone has heard the tapes when they realize they each had a say in her death. Whether they feel guilty about what they couldn’t do or what they wish they could’ve done it’s unbearable to know that MAYBE if Hannah had ONE person to go the extra mile to hold her and show her that her life means something and that they need her in their lives she probably would’ve survived…it’s a question all 13 people on the tapes are left asking themselves.
You might be saying but of course, her parents and maybe Clay can be people she can depend on as I was uttering the same words but when you have been broken down to the bone as badly as Hannah was just saying “Hi everything will be ok” is not enough at that point. She was past the breaking point of mild suggestions of life will be better phrased. She was at a detrimental state of mind and needed someone at that moment to fight and somehow get within her psyche or at least know this wasn’t just a case of teenage drama but something very severe and critical that needed everyone’s immediate attention now!
But sadly she felt that her soul and spirit had taken too many blows to withstand any more pain. I guess the main point of this article is to extend the conversation the show intended us to have regarding rape, abuse, bullying, and suicide. People like Hannah are out there now as I write this article and may or may not be in your life. But if they are, try your best to learn the troubling signs and know that their value is priceless and you are there to help guide them in any way. As an adult yes it may be hard to know what a teen is going through and even as a best friend you may not see any signs which are scary I know but the one thing we can do is show how much love we have for them and maybe just maybe that may give them pause to think twice about taking their own precious lives.
The cast of the show, as well as the directors and producers, were brilliant in keeping the rawness of the topic so to not diminish the seriousness of this issue but to have us open our hearts to the hurting society of our young teens and adults going through so much more than we can ever imagine. We hear stories all of the time in the real life of kids being bullied, and then later come to a boiling point by either hurting someone or killing themselves or even getting killed themselves. But it’s rare for popular media to take on this subject and be as detailed as this show was.
We all can do our part to help with this dire situation going on with our youths. Just being there to hear their stories by opening our hearts to show compassion and love for them can be the difference between life and death, to put it bluntly. Pain is so hard to detect as we are experts at masking our shattered spirits. So nothing can be brushed aside as being mild but something to take into account and just to be mindful of as we may witness a person crumbling before our eyes.
I certainly hope many people get to see this painful story of what happens to individuals that feel like they have nothing left to give or feel as if they can’t even add an ounce of joy to those around them. I’m glad Netflix had the guts to tell this all so important story that rarely gets told. The show can be too much at times to watch but it needs to be seen in its entirety. I will always be here for the youth as a voice so they have a chance to be amazing beautiful adults. It’s the duty of all adults who made it through the trials of being young to help guide those who come after us. You’re voice matters even if you think they don’t hear you. They will always hear you and will always want you to show them that they matter. Now it’s our chance and society around them to just show it.