13 Thoughts About 13 Reasons Why
In the series (based on the book) 13 Reasons Why, Hannah Baker takes her own life (this is not a spoiler. you learn it within the first few seconds of the series) and leaves behind 13 tapes that each tell why a certain person played a role in her life ending in suicide.
My daugther read the book about a year ago and after watching the series, she insisted that I had to watch it, too. So, I did. Here are my thoughts:
- It is a well done show, and it is hard to watch. It is the story of Hannah, but also of teens who are dealing with not only knowing that their actions caused the suicide of a classmate/friend, but knowing that everyone else on the tapes knows what they did. I was angry with them and hurt for them all at the same time. It was exhausting.
- Teenagers can be really terrible to one another. As I compared the kids in the show to my daughter’s friends, I was very grateful indeed.
- The 13 people on the tapes are not equal. Some had done horrible (even criminal) things, while others had been thoughtless and/or selfish, but they all made Hannah’s list of people she blamed for why she ended her life.
- Most of the 13 who made the tape cut had some pretty crappy stuff going on in their own lives, but Hannah doesn’t seem to have an eye or a heart for that. When we are hurting, it’s often hard to acknowledge others’ hurt…or care that their capacity to hurt comes out of their own pain.
- Not one of the young people named on the tapes had an adult in their lives that they felt they could turn to. There was, not surprisingly, not a single clergy person or church group represented in the series.
- Clay is the character who is listening to the tapes in this series. His parents did not get nearly as panicked as I would have been had my child behaved as he did following the suicide of a classmate (even if I didn’t know how close they had been)
- The series (and the book) are powerful reminders of how our actions and words affect others. As you work your way through the tapes (episodes), you can imagine that the slightest tweaks of the behavior of one or two people could have changed the outcome for Hannah. That’s a little daunting.
- It’s hard for people to name the crime and actually call someone a rapist–even when they know that someone is a rapist. Why is violence against women still so hard for us to name?
- People grieve differently. In the wake of Hannah’s suicide, some felt the huge weight of guilt, others denied any role they may have played and some were even disdainful of her. “We all have shit we go through, but we don’t all kill ourselves.”
- There are scenes that are really difficult to watch–particularly if you or someone you love has been the victim of a sexual assault.
- Rather than glorify suicide (as some have suggested), I think that the series shows the devastating effects that suicide has on a family, a school and an entire community.
- Keeping secrets about who you are and what you’ve done is exhausting.
- Talk to your kids. Make sure they have other adults in their lives that they trust and can turn to when they feel they can’t turn to you. We all need a grown-up in our lives that we can trust with anything.