Clay Jensen comes home from school to find outside his front door a mysterious box with his name on it. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did – and Clay is one of them. If he listens, Clay will find out how he got onto the list – what he hears will change his life forever.
I just want to say that there are controversial topics discussed within this post, I mean no offence and am simply trying to write why Netflix’s new drama is so important for society today.
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
~ Jay Asher
Jay Asher’s ‘13 Reasons Why’ has been made into a new Netflix series. The book follows why Hannah Baker killed herself and the seriousness of the issues surrounding her suicide.
But why has this suddenly been made?
Well with suicide being the highest cause of death amongst young people (PAPYRUS charity). – Notably, in the UK male suicides are decreasing whereas female suicide is on the rise – It highlights the realness of suicide in our everyday society.
Samaritan’s suicide statistics report 2016 says: “We need to get better at identifying those most at risk and finding ways to reach them,
“The causes of suicide are complex. We need to raise awareness of the issues, reduce stigma”.
One significant thing the series and book highlights is how there’s never one single issue that causes a person to take their own life. One reason, maybe 13 reasons, maybe even a million but we can’t just look at a person and know what or how their mind is thinking.
Through the portrayal by Asher and the directors, writers and producers (of which there are too many to list) it shows how everyone can be oblivious (whether that be consciously or not) to someone falling further and further into self-destruction.
See I think the most important thing that could have ever possibly come out of this series is that it’s a story that effects real people. Any of the issues amongst suicide, rape and bullying all affect real people.
Anna Strachan, someone who has watched the series said: “The series really showed how someone committing suicide can affect everyone else in their life” The fact that they don’t just disappear in the way they think they will. So many people face the consequences of suicide. The idea that 13 people were responsible for Hannah taking her own life doesn’t only focus on what made her do it but the process of coming to ending your own life and how those around us can affect the outcome of what is decided, as well as how the people who are left behind have to live with the aftermath when someone chooses to end their life.
The story goes much deeper than the idea of suicide and preventing it. Ideas like bullying and rape also feature in the story. And it’s so vital to understanding how young people work for and against one another. It provides understanding of rape and consent, with graphic content it really shows the watcher how rape can affect a person, thus providing a worthwhile showing for woman in how best to deal with it and how to prevent it happening to other woman or girls. On the flipside it shoes men the importance of ensuring consent as always necessary. It highlights for everyone that topics like these need to be discussed in the open. People need to be made aware of the real issues that affect real people. And cost real lives. If they don’t get talked about then, as Anna says: “People who have been affected by these things would feel as if they should be ashamed to have been the victim. People see how their actions have an impact on those who they choose to ‘abuse’ whether that be physically or mentally: “And then people who have been the bully or the rapist think it’s absolutely okay because no one has told them otherwise”.
The graphic nature of some scenes is what is most likely to come up as controversial. Hannah’s suicide and the two rape scenes are gruesome and difficult to watch. But the thing is they are so true to life. Things happen like this. Young woman are sexually assaulted. People kill themselves. But rarely are they covered in mainstream media in a way that they actually happen.
It is aimed to disturb the watcher: “I couldn’t watch most of the scene where Hannah killed herself, the bits I saw were so disturbing I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. I thought about how much emotional pain she must have been in to decide to bring this on herself: “TV and films don’t show rape scenes in so much depth and so people don’t always understand exactly how awful it can be. To make the viewers care about the issues, disturbing them with the raw truth is best”.
It’s not like one Netflix series is about to change the world. Or eradicate suicide altogether. As Strachan says: “It helps those to understand why people feel suicidal and exactly how this feels, and just how easily the little things can make someone feel like that.” But it’s the issues that are dealt with in detail and furthermore the graphic nature of how they show things such as Hannah’s suicide that reach out to people and show them how genuinely important it is to address the underlying issues associated with suicide and how everyone suffers as a result of it.
Thanks Anna for being a great interviewee and if you read this and relate then check out http://www.13reasonswhy.info where you can find further details on getting help. There’s a list of different countries, so you’ll be able to find someone that can help you from where you are.