Since Netflix released Thirteen Reasons Why, questions have been raised about whether suicide is being condoned or if young adults should watch it. If you’re in the constant habit of exercising your critical thinking skills and are honest with yourself about how media affects you, you can make the decision for yourself.
But others like the blogger for Pucker Mob, Ali Timlin, has their own reasons why they should not have watched the Netflix series, including being diagnosed with depression.
“I don’t know about any of you, but I definitely started comparing my life to hers and made me think that what I went through was nothing compared to Hannah Baker,” Timlin wrote. “I had a great friends group, I never got sexually harassed.”
I will be straightforward and admit that I have not had the opportunity to watch the series. As a nontraditional student who lives an hour away in a small town and spending a ton for fuel, I’ve had to cut my cable and Internet expenses. However, I have listened to Thirteen Reasons Why every year on audiobook while traveling or on the way to work or college. I have more fortune than Clay Jensen as far as format compatibilities in that way.
While I did not have any of Hannah’s similar interactions with the other high school students, what I do share with her is her sensitivity and the fact that one student spread the rumor that I was a whore at a religious college I first attended down south. There is a whole stigma attached to it just because I hung around mostly guys, and I was frowned upon for non-commitment or not finding enough other girls to hang out with.
Before then, in high school, I had grown up in an isolated environment as a homeschooler and felt so alone and wrote a suicidal blog. My parents caught me and my Internet privileges, my only connection to the outside world at the time, were taken away for a few weeks.
Others seem to agree with the novel’s author Jay Asher, based on their own personal judgments.
“The show not only tackles the subjects that many students face on a daily basis, but it also shows the impact and how damaging these issues can be to an entire community,” observed a writer for Fame Focus.
So, despite that others have differing opinions, I believe Thirteen Reasons Why offers an opportunity for young adults to open up when they are struggling with these so-called dark thoughts because they are not something anyone should take lightly or should shame anyone for. As Simon & Garfunkel wrote in their song “The Sound of Silence”: “’Fools,’ said I, ‘you do not know/ Silence like a cancer grows.”
It could shut someone up for good if they cannot feel like they can voice their thoughts honestly.
Asher defended a criticism that sparked several years later. “It basically deals with this uncomfortable subject matter,” Asher told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s hard for anyone to bring up, even outside of fiction. But that’s why it needs to be talked about.”
A particular line in Hannah’s poem at the end of the audiobook grabs my attention every time and puts into perspective the brutal internal torment: “Put me underneath God’s sky and know me—don’t just see me with your eyes. Take away this mask of flesh and bone and see me for my soul alone.”