I downloaded this a few weeks ago and when I saw a tweet from someone advising caution against watching it I thought ‘that’s a bit strong and somewhat dramatic’. To me this was a wonderfully acted, totally gripping drama, but I was only on episode 5.
What did I know.
Okay that’s not fair, it is wonderfully acted and gripping. However I will admit after I had seen episodes 9 and 12 and 13 I not only understood why the writer sent this tweet, I did the same.
If you’re not 137 or living under a rock you’ve heard of 13 Reasons Why. I’ll not go into the story of Hannah Baker; you can find it here because the issues around the series are, to me, more worthy of report. I think what might have happened is the grown-ups have forgotten what it’s like to be 16 and the all-encompassing belief that what you’re feeling will never disperse that comes with it.
There are two particularly graphic rape scenes that anyone who isn’t a complete psychopath will have difficulty watching. But these aren’t the only truly disturbing images we get, there's also the suicide… in full. The whole sorry incident.
Nic Sheff, who adapted the novel written by Jay Asher, has argued that he wanted to ‘depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible’. He also advised ‘it seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could’ve done would have been not to show the death at all,’
If he was showing it in ‘all its accuracy’ we wouldn’t have been given that ‘peaceful glide into abyss’ style. You would have seen her throw up, as sometimes happens during an attempt to commit suicide. But this scene neither messy nor drawn out means I fully believe the accusations of glamorising suicide are not exaggerated.
The fact that the perfect skinned Hannah is seen wandering the halls - albeit through Clay's eyes - in each episode seems suggest she got the last laugh. That the people who were hurting her get their comeuppance because of her actions… Again Not. Accurate. Suicide doesn’t fix anything, I think you’ll find as Veronica Sawyer says, all it does is make you a statistic.
All that happens after suicide is pain, confusion and more pain, not in the people that may or may not have caused it but in the friends and family of the person that died. There is no justice in suicide, no sweet revenge. There is just a big, fat, crappy mess and mental health issues for everyone involved.
Which brings me to another issue, why were there warnings of the graphic scenes but no mention of helplines or crisis centers for those that had been triggered by what they have just witnessed? How irresponsible is that?
13 Reasons Why is not the cause of teen suicide and it shouldn't be made the scapegoat of a messed up society. Maybe it will get people talking and be more open about mental health. It’s a risk though and to those teetering on the edge of hurting themselves it may come across as giving permission to actually do it.
Only time will tell.
Have you seen 13 Reasons Why?
What did you think?