Yes. I hopped on the bandwagon and binge-watched all 13 episodes of the Netflix Original Series, Thirteen Reasons Why and I actually haven’t slept because I’ve been watching it all night. It honestly made me write this post minutes after I finished the series because the series as a whole is so fucking important to tell, especially in today’s society.
I guess here are my thirteen reasons why the series and storyline are super important and how honestly left me thinking about my own experience once being a 17-year-old teenage girl in high school.
I’ve read the book about three years ago during the winter break. I got the recommendation from an actress, actually, who I was following at the time. As many of you know, Thirteen Reasons Why is about a girl named Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old high school junior who commits suicide and leaves behind a set of cassette tapes, explaining the 13 reasons (and people) that caused her to take her own life. I warn you now, the last 5 episodes of the series is extremely graphic; showing scenes of rape, abuse, and a very graphic suicide scene. If you are triggered by these sensitive topics, then watch at your own risk, honestly.
Thirteen Reasons Why exceeds in its expectations of visually showing how quickly life can go down a spiral, to the point where suicide is considered and committed. In a society where people still believe that suicide is a sign of weakness or it’s a selfish act to commit, Thirteen Reasons Why shows how and why people suffering from bullying, abuse, or depression, or any type of struggle in that manner, come to the conclusion that they are better off not living life anymore.
I can only assume that no matter who you are, what you do, and how you live your life; we’ve all been a representation of Hannah Baker. After watching the series in its entirety, I realize just how much I could relate to Hannah Baker.
Obviously, I’ve lived to be better days and brighter days. I didn’t let my loneliness, depression or my need for help ruin my life completely. I lived on to tell my story countless times, and it never seems like the damage will completely go away. In other words, things trigger those flashbacks of that time, especially in situations like Thirteen Reasons Why. And it’s crazy, because to this day there are a list of people who I honestly would’ve put as my reasons why if I did commit suicide when I contemplated it back in 2012.
- Like Hannah, my first reason would’ve been with the person who started it all. Of course, I’m not gonna be naming names, but if you know me well enough, you could piece the puzzle together. My first person appeared to be a sweetheart at first. They were the definition of perfection, and I honestly let my guard down for this person for a long time. When this person got what they wanted out of me, that’s when shit hit the ceiling. This person was a part of the slut-shaming that their group did of me; they constantly wrote subliminal messages about me on Facebook and encouraged all the bad things people said about me or wanted to do to me. For the simple fact of making the wrong decision, I was called the homewrecker. The conniving mistress. The whore, bitch, slut. Easy. My senior year wasn’t pleasant because I went to school every single day with people smiling in my face and talking shit behind my back because of this person. This person broke my heart.
- The second reason would be the person who constantly mentally bullied me. I made the dumb decision of being close to people who clearly didn’t have my back, and this one person literally was the definition of switch-up. Countless times, this person was like ammo for the first person. See the thing about bullies is that they tag team with each other because they aren’t strong individuals. Of course, I wasn’t a strong individual and I literally feared for my life for an entire year. By the way, if you stumble upon this post somehow – just know that I’ not 17 anymore and I’m not afraid of you anymore.
- The third reason would’ve definitely been the friends’ circle that I was once a part of. In high-school, I didn’t have close friends like that because I just always felt different from everyone else and I never felt like I belonged in high school. Anyway, these group of friends was a variety of musicians and artists, all crazy creative and talented. They were nice; we all would hang out after school and went to the park and this taco place almost every day after school. Things were great until the first and second person began to spread this never-ending rumor about me, which then forced them to obviously take their sides because those were their friends, not mine. To this day, I don’t associate myself with them because they literally turned the other cheek when it was time to deal with me.
- The fourth reason would’ve been a poet that I met at Urban Word NYC. Episode 8 of Thirteen Reasons Why is mainly about Hannah starting to go to a poetry workshop so that she is able to write out her feelings and the things she’s bottling up inside and honestly out of all the episodes, this was the once that impacted me the most. In 2012, I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to anymore, so I decided to return to Urban Word to create that safe space for me to talk and express what I’ve been dealing with. I blatantly remember one poem was simply titled “Elizabeth”, which honestly was about the idea of suicide and killing myself. Nobody ever knew it at the time, but the poem was intentionally written about me committing suicide. Anyway, this boy was refreshing and at this stage of my life, I yearned for some positive attention and I just wanted someone to see me and get me the help that I absolutely needed. Instead of giving me that, he created more drama (homeboy was a player and was seeing one of my friends from Urban Word actually) and yet again I was now labeled a slut and a homewrecker in a new environment. Shortly after that, I decided to officially quit Urban Word for good, because it was no longer my safe space. It was school drama 2.0.
- My fifth reason would’ve been a friend of mine who I first met at Urban Word and ended up being a really cool chick. We were a lot alike and we constantly spoke on Facebook for hours. She was really the only person I could remember who would want to talk and hang out with me during workshops. Things then changed when she confessed that she was talking to the same boy I was talking to, which at the time, I did not know about. Of course, instead of putting the blame on him, again – I was the slut. The easy one. The homewrecker.
- My sixth reason, in all honesty, would’ve been a really close friend of mine at the time. In the middle of April, my school put on this talent show and I decided that I was going to show some school spirit. I waited in the line by myself while my old friends were all together, laughing, while my close friend was with her group of friends, simply being friends together. I sat throughout the entire show in an aisle seat by myself, and when it was over, everyone went outside to talk and hang out in their groups as well. I walked out of the school by myself, feeling nothing but complete loneliness. It’s weird because the episode where Hannah explains how loneliness works were pretty much identical to the feelings I was feeling that specific day. Being surrounded by all those people at that moment in a nice, sunny Spring day yet feeling like no one can see you anymore is heartbreaking.
- For countless and countless of times, the first two people remained the reasons why I was close to committing suicide. The constant blows and nasty remarks I got in the hallways, the silent treatment I got out of nowhere, and constantly putting me down in any way possible became reasons why I had to change myself. Like Hannah, I cut my hair extremely short to feel like I can start fresh, especially starting college that fall. Instead, these “changes” I was trying to enforce within myself worked against me, and I was back at square one: still feeling lost without a voice and a purpose.
- My eighth reason actually would’ve been a family member of mine. Countless times, I would come home and just burst into tears because of the name calling I was getting and all the nasty rumors that were spreading about me, and a couple of times this person used it against me. A source told me that this person called me “a good for nothing homewrecker” when I wasn’t present. Still, do this day, that definitely stings.
- My ninth reason would’ve been this friend of mine who became a close friend of mine during this horrible time of my life. This person was in the majority of my class, hence how we became so close. I always appreciated her support and her availableness for me when we were in school, but I never actually thought that I was going through something like this. I don’t think she ever understood the severity of the depression and suicidal thoughts during this time period, and I don;t blame her. I just think back to Thirteen Reasons Why and asked myself “did people actually care about my well-being when I needed it the most?”
- The tenth reason, surprisingly, would’ve been my best friend. My best friend and I had our ups and downs, and our downs were at an all-time low at this time. He tried to be there for me and offered advice to the best of his ability, but I know that his opinion on my current decisions and shit were not to his favor, and sometimes it felt like I was distancing myself away from him. Of course, as I got out of this depressive stage and into a normal one, I realized that even though the bullshit and the fights, he’s always cared about me. Honestly, I could only wonder what would’ve happened if I wasn’t here anymore. Would be had felt guilty in the same sense Clay did? Would he have made it his mission to get justice for me? Honestly, I think so.
- The last reason (because 13 are just too much) would’ve been my guidance counselor at the time. I got sent to his office a couple of times for showing erratic behavior and having self-harm marks on my arms, and I know that being able to talk to suicidal students has to be the hardest thing to do, and I could tell that for my guidance counselor, he wasn’t ready for the things that I told him. I can recall the first time mentioning suicide to him and his response was simply to call my mother and return to class. That day, I return to class angry, more depressed, and felt a sense of carelessness. I didn’t care about me anymore.
I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why for all of its graphic content and symbolic messages because for a topic like suicide, the only way people are going to get it is to see the effect and process deciding to attempt suicide and successfully committing it. It’s scary and it’s so unfortunate that suicide is a rising problem within the teenage demographic.
If you come out of it as a survivor, that is an awesome accomplishment to have and you should be proud of yourself. Understand, though, that sometimes you just can’t.
And sometimes we come to the realization of wanting to live life way too late.
So seriously, I think Thirteen Reasons Why, both the book and series, is a must read/watch. It taught you just how much words can hurt, and how much those words can determine someone’s worth and purpose in life.
As Clay said; why can’t we all just be kind to each other?