My mixed review of '13 Reasons Why'

I just finished watching the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why." It was a show that several people recommended to me because it's a show about a girl who loses her life to suicide. And, considering suicide awareness is so important to me, I was hopeful that this show airing on the most popular streaming service would create a much-needed dialogue about the topic.

For anyone who doesn't know what the show is about, it flashes between the lives of the characters Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen. Hannah is the girl who killed herself. Clay is the boy who received a box of tapes, where she recorded 13 reasons why -- or more accurately, the 12 people who caused her to end her life (one person had two tapes). Pre-mortem, Hannah made arrangements for the tapes to be passed to each person who was on them -- each person who she blamed for her suicide.

Upon finishing the show, I do think it was powerful. It had a very strong anti-bullying message, but I'm not too sure that it had an anti-suicide message.

"13 Reasons Why" shows how everything you do or say can affect someone in a way you never realized. It shows that your actions do have consequences. It shows that we need to tell people how much they matter to us while they are alive because the words you say do matter. The way you treat others does matter. Sometimes, when someone is depressed or considering suicide, it just takes one person to say, "You matter, and I love you" or, "Tell me what's going on. I'm here for you" to make them reconsider.

I think "13 Reasons Why" shows how we can prevent others from harming themselves, and it shows the life threatening effects of bullying. In that way, I think it's an important show for anyone, especially teens, to watch. 

But I would not recommend this show for someone who is depressed or considering suicide. 

This show is not treatment. In fact, it could be a trigger. If you are considering suicide, contact a professional. But do not watch this show. 

The negative thing I will say about "13 Reasons Why" is I think it portrays a stereotype against people who have lost their lives to suicide that isn't accurate. And I think, if you watch the show, that's important to remember.

I don't like to admit this, but in high school, there was a time when death seemed like the answer. Thank God I never went through with it. But yeah, admittedly, it did cross my mind. With Hannah Baker, I was hoping for a character who I could relate to. But she was not that.

I remember I was told once that suicide is a sin because it is selfish. It is deliberately hurting the people around you. And I told this person that that's not the case. Maybe it is for some people who have lost their lives to suicide, but not for most.

But for the character Hannah Baker, she wanted her suicide to hurt people. She wanted people to blame themselves for it. Mental illness was never even mentioned. And I think that is a harmful stereotype.

I think that, when most people contemplate suicide or carry it out, they aren't thinking, in a villainous way, "Oh, this is going to ruin people's lives. It will destroy them. Maybe it will even cause other people to kill themselves. Muah ha ha." Depression is a disease. It's not something you logically think through or use as a weapon or as revenge.

There aren't "13 reasons why" someone wants to kill themselves. Usually there's just one. And that reason, from my own personal experience and from talking to others who have contemplated suicide, is, "I want this pain to stop." They aren't thinking about how their death would affect others. I truly believe that, if victims of suicide could have seen, realistically, just how their death would affect the people around them, they wouldn't do it.

I know, for me, if I ever had a friend or acquaintance who killed him or herself, I wouldn't need them to make a tape about me, explaining why their death was my fault. I would already blame myself. I would dissect everything I said or didn't say and make myself go crazy thinking, "What could I have done to prevent this from happening?" And I would never be the same. It would affect me for the rest of my life.

So, for anyone who is contemplating suicide, I want you to know that it will affect others. It will ruin lives. It will devastate and break hearts. And that's not a good thing.

And, for anyone who knows someone who is depressed, don't be like the people in Hannah Baker's lives. Don't perpetuate it. Don't make fun of them or say, "This is your fault." Instead, be their friends. Tell them they aren't alone, and encourage them to seek professional help.

For Oakland County residents in crisis, call Common Ground's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-231-1127. Nationally, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.

You Might Also Like


  1. Thank you Monica - your perspective is powerful and I appreciate your insight.

  2. Just finished watching this show. I agree with your post. Congratulations on your recent article. Thanks for everything you do.