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A response to “13 Reasons Why” critics

 

After Hannah’s encounters with different individuals at Liberty High, she was tormented by shame, humiliation, loneliness and trauma. “13 Reasons Why” is the showrunner’s attempt at dealing with the topic of suicide after suicide rates have climbed sky high. According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide has become the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 44 and under. The show has gotten a lot of positive feedbacks from the viewers. However, one thing the critics continuously have problem with has been the explicit scenes of drug abuse, body shaming, rape and suicide.

 

When I watched the show, it took me on an emotional rollercoaster. At times I felt like Clay, trying to figure out what Hannah was going through. Other times I felt like Hannah’s parents, not knowing why she did it and saddened by the fact that she did and that there was no way the story would end with her alive.  What was great about the show, other than the writing, acting and directing, was that it not only showed Hannah going through the horrible events, but it also showed the attempts of the society trying to help keeping her alive. There was a sweet boy who cared about her and would never intentionally hurt her the way everyone else had. There were attempts the school counselor made trying to help her. There were times the parents showed her how much they loved her, but none of it was effective. She only saw the things that went wrong, she didn’t acknowledge the good things in her life.

 

After the show was released and became super popular among teens, different critics had a problem with the graphic scenes. Many schools even banned talks about the show and warned parents about it as well. However, what they’re afraid of might be exactly what the show is trying to do. Executive producer Selena Gomez told E! News,

 

“I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused—in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time.”

 

When I was a very young kid, I had surgeries for hydrocephalus, a condition also called “Water on the brain.” I learned about death when I was constantly visiting and living in the hospital. Death was a real possibility for me back then. I didn’t know about God and I didn’t believe in any religion. I used to close my eyes and see the darkness all around me, then imagine my soul floating in space after death, overseeing the world moving on without me, my existence forgotten, my life not worth anything. That terrified me. When my body got better and I grew up facing bullying in elementary school, high school and college, thoughts of suicide constantly crossed my mind. I wasn’t able to see my life outside of school, because I never experienced anything other than school. I didn’t acknowledge the good things in my life. I didn’t have hope for a better future and I didn’t think my life would ever be any better. However, the one thing that pushed me to keep on fighting was the fear of death, the fear of being forgotten, and the fear of floating in space overseeing the world moving on never knowing who I was. Even when I learned about heaven and God, the fear of my life not worth anything stuck with me and kept on pushing me forward whenever I think about giving up.

The show included a graphic scene of the suicide of Hannah Baker. It was horrible. It was gory, it was certainly cringy, and it might even haunt your dreams, but that was the point. Oftentimes when we think life is a lost cause and suicide is the only option, we’re ignoring all the good things that are going on in our lives and we think of suicide as a stress-free and peaceful death. We think that death means the end to all of our problems. In the show, there was a scene of Hannah in the bathtub and her mother walked in to find her lifeless body. When we think about suicide, we don’t think about all the people we’re hurting. In our minds, it seems to be the perfect solution to all our problems, but in reality, it only brings our problems to someone else.

 

13 Reasons Why successfully shows that suicide is never a stress-free death, and that it is never the solution to our problems. By scaring them with graphic scenes of something that is often perceived as peaceful in a time of distress, maybe they would not think of suicide as a solution anymore.

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WATCH 13 Reasons why official Trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JebwYGn5Z3E

Written by Curtis Han, RM Entertainment Contributor

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