QUEZON City, Philippines – “This is Hannah. Hannah Baker.” Such a simple line but it has a big impact, especially after learning that it was written by a girl who committed suicide. And that is the story of arguably one of the most controversial TV series today, 13 Reasons Why.
If you haven’t watched the series yet, I give this ample warning. The series may trigger negative feelings and if you are easily influenced, you should re-think ever watching this series.
I watched the series using my cousin’s Netflix account. 13 Reasons Why is based on the novel of the same name. And while watching it, I find myself relating to one of the characters of the series – Clay Jensen. Like Clay, it was a struggle for me to finish the series – each episode evoked strong feelings and emotions that need to be released.
Hence this article.
Also, spoiler alert.
As I said earlier, this is the story of Hannah, a girl who committed suicide after encountering many failures in life during high school – a period notorious for its angst and stress. What is so frustrating is that she started to make a series of tape recordings – a sort-of personal therapy – to cope with her existential problems. You know that she wants to live. But life was very unfair to her and because of misunderstandings and also her inability to articulate her problems, she was left with a feeling of no choice.
I don’t know why I am so affected. I did not encounter the same difficulties that Hannah encountered during high school. But one cannot deny the reality that such incidents are common. The frequency of teenage suicides is rising internationally, which is just tragic.
I give kudos to the cast of the show, all of whom gave awesome performances. It is said that actors sometimes become so engrossed in character, that they end up having to talk to psychiatrists – who are on duty on the set – and spend time with adorable therapy dogs to relieve their negative emotions.
And this is were the problem starts. The novel and series have the unspoken goal of preventing the occurrence of suicide among teenagers by creating an awareness on the thought process of one who is contemplating of doing such a drastic deed. It also educates us on what to look out for, in ourselves and in others, so that we can take care of each other, especially those who are experiencing a rather tough time.
So, it is ironic that a series that wants to prevent suicide is now being accused of promoting the same. There were reports that there were marked increase in calls to suicide hotlines after the show was released. 13 Reasons Why should come with trigger warning – don’t watch it when you are already down or stressed or facing some kind of a problem because it will make you spiral downward faster, maybe not to the point of killing yourself but it will definitely make you feel bad.
At the end of the day, I guess what I want to say is that it is a great show, with a great message but be careful when watching it.
(written by Jay Paul Carlos, additional research by Vince Alvin Villarin)