If you haven’t heard about the series, “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, it’s a great show that explores a lot of very touchy issues that aren’t normally discussed, much less shown in a television series. I have watched both seasons and cried quite a few times throughout each one, (& I’m not a crier, seriously). This show’s ability to build a connection between the viewer and the characters is phenomenal. You can almost physically feel their pain, (shown through their incredible acting talents).
If you haven’t watched it. I feel the need to tell you that there are MANY “triggering” scenes. It deals with issues spanning from self-harm, substance abuse, suicide and sexual assault. There are a few very graphic scenes.
It highlights sensitive subjects in a way that truly makes one think. I’d like to talk about 13 things that the series “13 Reasons Why” has taught us.
If you haven’t Watched “13 Reasons Why”, here is the basis of what the show is about:
The series begins after a teenager named Hannah Baker has committed suicide. She leaves behind 13 tapes, each discussing a particular person or event that caused her to kill herself. Each episode, in season 1, is a detailed visual of what event or person did to her that ultimately led to her choice to take her own life. It’s a highly emotional series and you become quickly invested in each of the characters.
I would highly recommend this series – but again provide a warning that the depictions and topics discussed in the show can be triggering for some people. So, if you’re prone to becoming triggered, (emotionally/mentally), do not watch alone.
Spoiler Alert for Seasons 1 & 2 of “13 Reasons Why”
Stop reading immediately if you haven’t watched the series.
Okay, so “13 Reasons Why” dives into a lot of heavy topics. Here are 13 things we learned from watching “13 Reasons Why”.
1. Be Kind to People Always
You never know what someone may be battling internally. There is no need to be cruel to others. One comment could make or break a person’s day. As we see with Hannah Baker in season 1, receiving compliments in her “compliment bag” was a highlight of her day. By Zach cruelly removing those from her, she felt even worse than she was already feeling.
Always be kind. A simple act or word of kindness can make someone feel better. In the case of Hannah Baker and this series, kind words could’ve saved her life.
2. There is ALWAYS someone who Cares
In this series, we have to watch the characters who had been close to her suffer after her suicide. Although she didn’t realize it, there were many people who cared very deeply for her. It was so heart-breaking to see how her actions changed the lives of those around her.
Even though you may not realize it. There is always someone who cares. You are more important to people than you know.
3. Be Aware of Warning Signs
In season 1, we see Hannah’s demeanor and behavior slowly shift but it doesn’t seem like anyone really notices. There are warning signs that someone is internally suffering and possibly contemplating suicide. It’s important to look for these warning signs.
Some that Hannah displayed included: a drastic change to her appearance (cutting her hair short), withdrawing from friends and family, writing sad poetry and in season 2, she actually asks her group of friends – (the morning after they took drugs), if they had ever thought of killing themselves. All of these things are warning signs. If you think someone is in trouble – do not remain silent. Talk to them or seek help from their loved ones or a professional for advice.
4. Sexual Assault Happens A lot
The statistics concerning sexual assault are truly staggering. A lot of people aren’t even sure if an instance they experienced was, in fact, sexual assault. If you see something – say something. If no consent is given and sexual acts take place: that is sexual assault. Recognize if someone is in trouble and if possible, intervene or seek an authority figure.
As we see in the case of Bryce Walker, (who is a fictional character. The actor is really not a rapist). He doesn’t view his actions as rape. In the case of Jessica, she doesn’t want to accept that she was raped. Hannah wasn’t even sure that she was, in fact raped. We need to end these “blurred lines.”
Sexual assault is a sensitive subject but it’s important to educate yourself on the matter. And – if you see something, SAY SOMETHING.
Remember – if no consent isn’t given, it IS sexual assault.
5. You Cannot blame yourself for another’s suicide
We see this in the case of Clay Jensen in the series. He obviously blames himself for Hannah’s suicide and it breaks him down. Personally, I had a friend who committed suicide and I always thought I should’ve noticed that something was wrong. It still hurts to think about it.
But, we cannot assume full blame for another person taking their own life. There are mountains of factors to consider. Do not blame yourself for another’s choice to take their own life.
6. It’s OK to ask for Help
If you’re in a bad place, mentally, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it shows strength. You’re admitting that you can’t deal with your issues alone and there is NO SHAME in that. We all need help sometimes.
So many of the characters featured in the series very obviously need help but few ask for it. It’s such a tragedy that there is this stigma associated with mental health that somehow makes people see it as a weakness. It’s not.
It is OKAY to ask for help. If you or someone you know needs help, seek out an adult or crisis counselor. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Be strong for yourself & those around you. If you need mental health assistance – ask for it.
7. There are Always different sides to every story
Especially in High School, rumors run rapid. Word of mouth travels far and, like a game of “telephone” in elementary school, becomes a very distorted version of the truth.
Engaging in “Gossip” actually says more about you than it does about the person you’re gossiping about. Don’t spread rumors and always recognize that there are different sides to every story.
Example: When Hannah hangs out with Justin and gets her first kiss, a single picture caused her to be labeled as a “slut.” The truth was distorted and exaggerated and resulted in a rumor that wasn’t true. (BTW the word “slut” is a horrible word to use. Don’t slut-shame people.)
8. We ALL have Issues
Look at every character in the series. They all have issues. In real life, we all do too. Here are some examples from the series:
- Tyler (Constantly bullied, feels isolated without any support. Hides his issues from his parents).
- Skye (Self-Harms)
- Jessica (Uses alcohol to cope with her emotions).
- Clay (Shy, reserved and unable to express his true feelings).
- Justin (Terrible home life).
The point is, no matter how large or small – we ALL have issues. If you’re feeling a certain way, you are most certainly not alone.
9. Bullies have many Faces
Bullying is a huge problem in High Schools. Bullying doesn’t just come from the “obvious assholes” either. As we see with Zach, who seems like a very nice guy, bullies Hannah by taking away her compliments. Bullying isn’t just physically harming another person either, it can be: humiliation, rumor-spreading, verbal abuse and singling a person out.
10. We all Respond differently to circumstances
What bothers you may have zero effect on another person, and vice-versa. A seemingly harmless joke can have a huge effect on a person. As we saw with the infamous “list” in the series; Hannah and Jessica both have very different reactions. Remember that just because something wouldn’t bother you – doesn’t mean it can’t hurt someone else.
11. Always Step-Up for Someone Else
We see Tyler constantly being bullied and very rarely does anyone say a damn word about it. All the baseball players seem to know about the secret “Rape Shack” and nobody steps up and says anything.
Stick up for people when they’re in a bad situation. If you see something bad happening – SAY SOMETHING or DO SOMETHING. Do not be a bystander when it comes to someone else’s pain, (physically or emotionally).
12. Little things Matter
So many times in the this series, we see opportunities for the characters to do something or say something to help Hannah. When Courtney is confronted with being a lesbian, she pushes the attention towards Hannah. When Cyrus has the opportunity to stay friends with Tyler after Tyler’s obvious attempt to change, he denies him a chance at that friendship.
The little things do matter. Do what’s right. Again, this goes back to being kind. A kind word, a smile or a simple, “How are you doing”, can make or break someone.
13. Suicide & Depression can Affect Anyone
It could be the most popular person you know who ends up taking their own life. I think that Justin’s character is the best example of this. In public, he’s very popular, well-liked and appears to have a great life. At home – his circumstances are VERY different.
Just because someone “appears” a certain way, doesn’t mean they are that way. It could just be the way they portray themselves. Depression and suicide/suicidal thoughts can affect anyone.
- Always be Kind.
- You never know what someone else is going through.
- Stand up to bullies.
- Recognize warning signs of mental illness.
- Don’t be a bully – (this includes Slut-shaming, which happens to Hannah a lot in the series. It’s cruel and what someone does in their own sex life has ZERO to do with you).
- If you see something – SAY SOMETHING.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this series deals with very heavy topics – some of which are too much for people to see visually occurring on screen. Do not let anyone under the age of 13 watch this alone. It’s available on Netflix.
The series as a whole is very impacting and really gets one thinking about how we can be better towards each other. It had a substantial impact on me. There is a particular scene in season 2 that almost sent me into a panic attack. Though these issues are difficult to talk about, it is important that there is a dialogue about these uncomfortable topics occurring because of this incredible series.
Here is a list of mental health resources if you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness or just need someone to reach out to:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
If you’re uncomfortable verbally talking text “START” to 741-741.
I hope everyone enjoyed the series and learned a little something from it. Please be kind to each other. 🙂
Much Love <3