Wiping away my tears, I attempted to continue watching without waking my brothers in the hotel cots next to my bed. I was ten days into spring break, relishing the freedom of traveling and spending time with my family.
However, as I consecutively watched every episode of “13 Reasons Why,” I found myself in the same situation as many of those who were affected by the weight of Hannah Baker’s story.
As I’m sure many of you have learned in the past few weeks, “13 Reasons Why” has raised international controversy and praise for its destructively realistic depictions of teen suicide.
I, too, was intrigued with the idea and in all honesty was excited to watch what those around me were calling “an incredibly accurate portrayal of depression and suicide.” A Netflix original show addressing the taboo topics of mental illness and bullying felt like a refreshing escape from the norm.
However, as I sacrificed sleep for the adrenaline that rushed over me as I clicked “next episode,” the night turned from a typical Netflix binge to an overwhelming realization that I would not be able to set aside my past experiences to watch a fictional show.
Social media, rightfully villainized within the show, is currently swimming in an ocean of opinions, mine included. In the digital age, we have learned to let them wash over us, yet we recognize that this limits the boundaries of our own knowledge.
Exposing ourselves to such extremes, like dedicating hours to a TV show while skimming the world news, leaves us vulnerable to blindly accepting what we are told is the truth.
I do not believe that “13 Reasons Why” tells the truth.
As human beings, we cannot help but crave being known. We act out of character, make mistakes and ultimately sacrifice our own happiness for the fleeting gratification of popularity.
I believe that the writers and produces of “13 Reason Why” exploit this intrinsic value by romanticizing the reality of suicide.
Hannah Baker is not dead. Her character lives on through the tapes, each bringing her back to expose a reason she took her own life. She makes us fall in love with Clay Jensen, the boy that makes suicide seem like a twisted aphrodisiac.
Her intricate plans for remembrance and revenge solidify the idea that suicide will allow others to see the fault within themselves. Though providing appalling experiences to justify Hannah Baker’s suicide, “13 Reasons Why” failed to genuinely convey the emotion and mental state one lives in when they are considering taking their own life.
The failure to acknowledge that suicide is a mental illness underlines the idea that, when bad things happen, people choose suicide. However, the reality I have come to understand is that, when bad things happen, your mind tells you it’s your only choice.
We all know, miss or are our own Hannah Baker. Though, we cannot allow her to become our reality. As much as our hearts swell when we dream of our own Clay Jensen, suicide is not a romance story.