13 Reasons Why has blown up the internet, Netflix and bookshelves in the past few weeks. For those of you who have watched it/read it you can probably understand why. The issues this story deals with are ones that all people can relate to. The main issues that it deals with are bullying, suicide, treatment of others, body shaming and an abundance more, in fact the issues and lessons that can be learned from this story are endless. After finishing the story it took me several days to recover from the emotions that it evoked. Most importantly, it took several days to make sense of the thoughts it evoked… but of all the thoughts that it evoked not one had to do with placing the blame only on Hannah…
There was one particular comment made by someone regarding this story that particularly got me considering the fact that people have missed the point. This comment was as follows “choosing to commit suicide is no ones fault but your own”. I agree, that IF we lived in a world where we were alone and unaffected by others then YES, there is no one to blame but one self for committing suicide. However, you must consider the fact that we don’t live in a world by ourselves. We live in a world with a million other people and we interact with at minimum 10 people a day. All people in which impact us in some sort of way, whether it be positive or negative. Irregardless of the impact they have on us, we are nonetheless still impacted. For those of you who try to argue this point I ask you this: if you want to believe you are not impacted by others then how do you feel when your bullied? How do you feel if you are raped? How do you feel if you are beat? Did it impact you? The answer is yes. If it didn’t impact you in some type of way then a bubble is where you might live. In that case, I envy you for never being impacted negatively or positively. In reality, in REAL life, the people around us impact us. Whether we want to admit that or not they do. The point is that we don’t live in a world on our own we live in a world with a million other people and whether we want to admit it or not the people around us impact us.
To make a statement that it’s no one but her own fault for taking her own life, in part is true. She did indeed take her own life (in the story of course) and for that she is to blame, PARTIALLY. However, the whole story in which you read or watched goes beyond this obvious fact. THIS RIGHT HERE is the point that has been missed. The whole point of the story is that everyone contributed to her death and lead her to feel a particular way about life. In life we have minimal control, we cannot control what happens to us and (as much as people want to believe) we cannot control how people make us feel. Feelings are sometimes uncontrollable. If you want to argue this point I will make an example. Try loving someone and being told not to. Try being stabbed and try not hurting. As you can see, we can not turn ourselves off to what we feel. Feelings, whether we like them or not are there and we must deal with them as they come. My point here is that we cannot control how others make us feel nor can we control how we feel at the end of the day… feelings are there.
This all being said, there is a proper way to address the topic of suicide and that is to talk about. Let’s have the conversation! Let’s discuss why this happens, because maybe just maybe understanding it can change something in this world. And this is exactly what this story is trying to get people to do: DISCUSS suicide and take responsibility. Suicide, is not a popular subject, in fact, no one wants to talk about it, but it should be talked about because it’s something people face every day. Here is a quick fact for you, nearly 43,000 Americans alone die from suicide each year. That is in AMERICA only… does that number surprise you? It should, because that’s a LOT of people. This clearly shows that something has gone wrong here. These are people who don’t want to be here anymore, why? You might ask, well… 13 Reason’s Why addresses some of those reasons…. and it starts with US and ends with them.
What this show/book is trying to show is that ALL of us contribute to someone’s decision to commit suicide. Our contributions, small or large, make us in part, responsible for their death. You can easily ride off the blame by saying something like “they had an issue”, “they were messed up in the head”, “they were unhappy”, “it’s their choice and their the only ones to blame”, but the problem with that is you haven’t looked at yourself and how you might be to blame. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS STORY! This is exactly what happened in the story. The students, her friends, rode off the blame, just as we do when we say something like “there is no one to blame but themselves”. By riding off the blame and responsibility you are doing exactly what the characters in the story initially did and that is not taking responsibility for the impacts you made.
The moral of this story is that we need to re-evaluate ourselves and most importantly re-evaluate the way that we treat people, talk to people and what we do to people because we DO have an impact on other peoples lives. At the end of the day it is our decision whether or not we are going to make that impact a good one or a bad one. These are the things we need to be thinking about while watching the show and reading the book. This story opens the door for discussion to talk about what we can do to make our world a better place or what we can do to give someones life a little more purpose. This story forces us to look at ourselves and some of us just aren’t ready to do that, but if you want to make this world a better place that’s exactly where you have to begin, with yourself. This story opens the door to the fact that we need to come together and make this world a better place to live in so people want to live in it, it all starts with US.