13 Reasons Why, has been making waves since its release on 31st March. If there was a list of ways not to portray suicide, this would tick every box. The 13-episode drama is the most tweeted-about show of 2017.
The series covers the story of teen Clay Jensen who is coming to terms with the news of the suicide of classmate Hannah Baker, he is shocked to learn that she left behind a series of cassette tapes, each side naming an individual who contributed towards her decision to take her life.
Over the course of 13 episodes, Hannah is brutalised relentlessly, she is sexually objectified in a class poll, sexually harassed in school and on social media, sexually assaulted in public, stalked outside her home and raped at a house party. Friends dismiss her, the high school counsellor fails her, and she felt like she was on her own.
This is not a drama that shies away from detailing the worst aspects of teenage life, particularly where girls are concerned. Hannah’s world is one of the casual cruelties and small abuses, of slut shaming and middle-class entitlement, where the desire to fit in trumps everything for even the nicest of teens.
Suicide is not the easiest of subjects, and while 13 Reasons Why is brilliantly acted, it’s certainly not a show that many people fancy binge-watching. Hannah’s story is heartbreaking. But it’s also an important piece to watch for both teenagers and those of us who are or will soon be parents of teens.
One in five adults will experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. Silence intensifies the shame that already accompanies such thoughts. The important thing is to discuss the idea of suicide as a feeling, rather than the act as something final. Mental health isn’t spoken about enough and hopefully, this series will make people more aware of this.
This is a must watch series and rumour has it there will be a second series!!