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Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why

13reasonswhy

For those of you that know me: You’ll know I suffer from Depression and Anxiety. If I’m being 100% honest, my mental health hasn’t been in a very good place recently, and I’ve been struggling.

I decided to watch 13 Reasons Why. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately then you’ll have at least heard about this Netflix Series (which was based on the Thirteen Reasons Why young adult book by Jay Ahser). I was really tentative about watching this series as it is notorious for triggering people’s Mental Health but I had to know what all of the fuss was about. I had to see it for myself.

Apparently if you’re vulnerable or suffer from mental health issues people advise you not to watch 13 reasons why; but I did.

The storyline synopsis of this series on IMBD states:

‘Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.’

I can confirm that it deeply affects the viewer. I am scarred. I am shocked. I am confused. I am numb. For someone who suffers from Mental Health issues myself: This was such a raw, graphic and emotional watch. I don’t regret it though.

Let’s start with my negative views on this series and then we can finish on the positives?

I’m glad they have made 13 Reasons Why into a series. It’s important that people talk about Mental Illness, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, rape, bullying and all of the other sensitive (?) themes that we tend not to open up about. 13 Reasons Why will, and has, definitely got people talking about these subjects – which is a good thing. We absolutely should be talking about these matters. Secondly, it portrayed just how much people turn a blind eye to mental health in this day and age. There has been much controversy since the release of this series: people claiming that it doesn’t really highlight mental health issues. If a girl taking her own life due to bullying at school, battling with her own thoughts, isolating herself etc. doesn’t display a profound mental health problem then I don’t know what does!? The protagonist, Hannah Baker, was a troubled girl and she seek help in every way that she thought she could but to no avail. She took her own life. This happens. This is reality. And we need to open our eyes. 13 Reasons Why has done that – despite all the negative comments that have been coming up about it.

More positives about 13 Reasons Why? It conveyed a real portrayal of bullying at school: I could relate to many of the incidents that Hannah Baker experienced. Slut-shaming? Yes. The photos being spread around? Yes. Rumours? Yes. I could go on. But I won’t. People don’t realise the impact of their words and actions during school years; I still carry many of these with me today. It’s something you never forget or let go of. I also think that the graphic scenes featuring self-harm, rape, bullying and so on was the right thing to do. We shy away from these subjects. We shouldn’t. In the ‘beyond the reasons’ extra episode they totally justify why they decided to make the scenes so ‘disgusting’ and graphic: because that’s the reality of it. It’s not an easy thing to talk or think about. And that’s the problem.

I feel like I’m beginning to go into deep detail and waffle on quite a bit so I won’t say much more things I liked about the show (for now). I’ll move on to a couple of the negatives that I personally wanted to comment on from my own experience of watching the show.

I do think that 13 reasons why is very triggering. It will deeply affect you. It is not for vulnerable people. It does scare me that young girls and boys will watch this and perhaps think suicide is their only option. I also feel like 13 Reasons Why perhaps glamourizes and romanticises suicide in many scenes throughout the episodes. This isn’t a realistic portrayal of suicide, it is a story from a young adult novel, I would hate to think that young girls or vulnerable people etc. would plant ideas in their head following watching this series in a fragile state. Another thing I didn’t like about 13 Reasons Why is that there is a lot of talk about ‘who killed Hannah Baker’. Everyone was blaming themselves. Hannah was creating tapes dedicated to people who caused and contributed to her taking her own life; I just didn’t think this was right. Hannah Baker committed suicide. She took her own life. She didn’t see any other way out. She was lost, troubled and not in a good place but nobody ‘killed’ Hannah Baker. Hannah killed Hannah. It upset me to see these kids (essentially) blaming one another and pointing the finger, accusing one another, and themselves of killing Hannah when this wasn’t the case. Of course they have to accept the responsibility. But they did not kill her.

13 Reasons Why will stay with you forever. You will remember Hannah, always. You will remember her story. You will tell people about it. It does that to you. I think everyone should watch this series. It has it’s strong points and its flaws but it is 100% worth the watch. I could relate to Hannah so much and I just wish that everyone could try and understand what is going on in her head. I felt like I understood. Is that right? I don’t know. But I did.

If you’re struggling from Mental Health issues, and you are reading this post, please please please talk to someone and tell them how you are feeling. I would hate to think anyone feels alone. The way Hannah did; the way I often do.

I recently wrote a book: Melancholy Mind. It has an abundance of Help & Contacts towards the back of the book and I open up about my Mental Health experiences with you through the form of poetry. I would really appreciate if you all took the time to read it.

That’s all for now, from me

Charlene McElhinney

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Email: charlenemcelhinney@icloud.com

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9 thoughts on “Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why

  1. I agree with you completely. I do get why there’s people out there that can’t watch it, but having also struggled from depression, anxiety, and suicidal idealisation for the better part of nearly two decades now, I really liked it.

    I’m not very easily triggered (by anything at all, really) so that could have something to do with it, but I just don’t think blacklisting it as being a no go for everyone that’s struggled with their mental health is necessarily something we should do.

    I have to admit, I started watching it because of the controversy. I thought I’d watch it because of that and then either not continue watching or finish it begrudgingly. I was wrong. I enjoy the show. I enjoy the characters. I enjoy the representation with both race and sexual orientation. I enjoy the story. The acting is amazing (Kate Walsh can I get a what-what-holy-f?) and yeah, I think it’s a great show. Well put!

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  2. I haven’t watched it and I don’t plan on it. As someone who has struggled and continues to struggle with depression and anxiety, I just think it would put me in a bad state of mind. I’m not going to try and stop other people from watching it, but its just not for me. Thanks for your perspective though. It was nice to hear firsthand from someone else who has battled with depression and anxiety.

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  3. I’ve not watched 13 reasons but you make it sound quite gripping, I’ll have to try and watch it! Your right though, its important for people to talk about any issues they have

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  4. I haven’t watched it and I’m not planning on watching it. I saw the trailer and it was really triggering for me. It was a bit hard for me to read this, but well done on speaking out.

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  5. Omg GURL it feels as if you’ve just taken my brain out! I have the exact sentiments in regards to the show, both of the positives and negatives!! I suffer from anxiety too but it didn’t stop me from watching because I was curious to know what the fuss is all about. The show did trigger me and I felt numb for a few days. And tbh I actually skipped the part when Hannah slit her wrists because I know I can’t bear to watch that.

    skinnydecxflatte.blogspot.com xo

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