It shouldn’t have taken 13 Reasons Why to open the conversation about suicide.
Before you read; this will be talking about some heavy stuff. If you’re triggered by talk of suicide, please don’t read. Stay safe, my friend. It’s okay if you pass this up. If you do take the chance to read it, and at any point feel unsafe, I’ve tossed in some trusted links to help.
A couple of days ago, I told myself (and tweeted) that I wouldn’t be watching the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, even though that was one of my favorite books. My main reasoning was its choice to depict Hannah’s suicide instead of leaving it as an open-ended subject.
Hannah’s suicide is graphically depicted.Every single second is shown. I know this because I made myself look it up. I knew it would trigger me. I knew it would put me in a bad space. But in order to get this right…for the sake of journalism if you could call this that, and knowing I was in a safe space if it got too much, with my dog by my side, I looked it up on YouTube.I didn’t watch every single second. Most of it was spent with my eyes closed. But I listened. The fact that I knew, before I even watched it, that I would get triggered, is a serious issue because I know I’m not the only one.
This is a problem.
There is no need for something like that to be so graphic, especially on a show targeted to an age group where a leading cause of death is suicide. The creator gave a reasoning for why they did it the way they did…but frankly I think it’s bull and it’s no excuse. Not when quite a few shows have had a character attempt to kill him or herself, or had a character die by suicide, have never shown the method, never spoke of the method, and managed to get the story along just fine along with bringing awareness.
The other issue I have is how much goes into these tapes. As if this is her way of getting revenge or justice. That’s not how it works.
You don’t get to keep telling your story when you’re dead. When you commit suicide, or you die any other way, really, you don’t get to have your suicide letter passed around from person to person to put the blame on them for why you died. You don’t get revenge. You don’t get your method broadcast to the world. You don’t get to see the people who hurt you have to deal with the repercussions. You don’t live on. You get people guessing and assuming why you did what you did, you get close friends and family who will cry and mourn and grieve for years to come, if you have a pet they’ll constantly wonder when you’re coming home and having to cope with the fact you never will, you get a funeral, and that’s it. You stop there.
Yes, people will talk about you, but it would be about how much they miss you , their confusion over why you did what you did.
Yes, this show is bringing awareness to suicide, yes it’s bringing awareness to mental illness…albeit in its own strange, twisted way, yes it is starting conversation. But did we really need to graphically depict a girl killing herself on a show to start that conversation with our sons and daughters and friends about if they’re feeling depressed or suicidal and if they need help? Especially when it can and has triggered many people and reminded them of their own painful pasts, or presents?
The answer is no. No, we didn’t.