“13 Reasons Why” blends polished storytelling with suicide awareness
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13 Reasons Why is a recently released Netflix original series that focuses on suicide.
As far as shows go, this is not one that you should watch if you’re looking for an uplifting or happy story. While this story is not a happy one, it is still captivating and important. The show is based on the novel 13 Reasons Why.
The show takes place shortly after the suicide of 17-year-old Hannah Baker. Before Hannah takes her life, she makes tapes explaining exactly where she feels her life went wrong. She gives the tapes, with very specific instructions regarding what to do with them, to a trusted friend.
The show switches between present day and flashback as Clay, a recipient of the tapes, pieces together exactly what went wrong. The story is complex and requires the viewer’s full attention. Don’t start watching the show for background noise and expect to know what is going on by the end of an episode.
Each episode represents one of each of the 13 tapes Hannah made. The episodes are an hour long and always end with a cliffhanger. It will be hard not to binge watch this show all at once.
By the end of the season, it is perfectly clear what happened to Hannah, but as her story unfolds, others are just developing. There are still questions left unanswered and a few major unresolved plot twists that will make you wish Season 2 was already released. According to What’s on Netflix, as of April 1, the series has not yet been renewed.
While the story behind the show is not factual, it is based on some very real and serious issues that everyone should be aware of. The most prevalent issue displayed in the series is suicide.
The creators of 13 Reasons Why knew they were creating a show with an uncomfortable subject matter, but they made it anyway. The show’s purpose is not only to entertain but also to raise awareness for the prevention of suicide and other tragedies.
The show includes a “behind the scenes” episode, which explains each tragedy, why it is included and the decision process about how to present each tragedy. Writers, actors, and even the producer, Selena Gomez, give insight into their thought process when making the show. Beware though, this behind the scenes episode includes several spoilers. Finish the show first so you understand what the creators and actors are talking about in the interviews and keep from ruining the show for yourself.
One of the main points stressed throughout the show is that it’s important to get help if you see warning signs for suicide in a friend, or if you are having suicidal thoughts yourself. The show has created a website dedicated to finding help for yourself as well as a crisis text line if you need someone to talk to.
There are also ways to get help at your school. School counselors are always there for help, or to talk through any problems. If your friend is having suicidal thoughts, or showing signs of suicide, the first thing you should do is tell a trusted adult.
“You’re not betraying a friend if you tell someone,” says Ms. Renata Emery, school counselor. “You could be saving your friend’s life.”
“It’s important for the person to know they’re not alone, and they don’t have to go through it alone. It’s okay to discuss your thoughts and feelings.” says Emery.
“People going through this crisis tend to be very self involved. They think if they take themselves out of the world, it’s just them, but the effects are exponential. They affect their family and the school, too,” says Emery.
13 Reasons Why does a great job of capturing the impact a suicide can have on a community. It shows how Hannah’s family has been tormented by the tragedy, and it shows how the atmosphere at her school has changed for not only those close to her, but for all the students.
If you go to a school counselor you can get help for yourself or for a friend. Counselors will contact the parents of the student in need of help and can give them a referral for someone the student can talk to. You can also receive information about help hotlines and walk-in clinics.
You can reach the Maryland Crisis Hotline by phone at 1-800-422-0009 or have an online chat. For the Maryland hotline you can dial 2-1-1 or 1-866-411-6803. Both hotlines are available 24/7.
There is also Walk-In Clinic located in Frederick. No appointment is necessary, and all minors must be accompanied by an adult.
It is important to be aware of the signs of suicide. Always find help for yourself or someone you’re concerned about.