The Problem With 13 Reasons Why

I’m not going to take back my opinions of how good the show is, because it is, but I do have one issue that I can’t get past from.

Image result for thirteen reasons why show

Last week I was working on on a post about books and shows that portray characters dealing with mental issues. Initially, I had 13 Reasons Why on the list, but then it dawned on me that it also didn’t belong on that list (sort of like Clay). The other books on the list talked about mental health and how debilitating and problematic it can be to live with them, but they all had one thing in common. Their protagonists received the help they needed. None of them died. For those reasons, I found myself removing 13RW from that list.

On a post that’s about dealing with mental illness, I didn’t want to include a story whose character dies in the end. I wanted it to be more positive, to let people know that there can be an issue, and more importantly a solution to it too.

I know that in the real world it doesn’t always end on a happy note, and 13RW reflects that, but shouldn’t we also be able show how people can overcome it? In the show, Hannah doesn’t get help. She only talks to one person who fails to see the problem, and then she gives up. She could have talked to her parents or friends, but chooses to give up easily. That’s not the right message to show people already struggling with similar thoughts.

What’s even more mind boggling is that the show never addresses the possibility that Hannah might have been suffering from some type of mental illness. In my opinion, this a failure on part of the show because most suicide victims also suffer from mental illness.

Everyone is talking about how great the show is and how it’s raising awareness on serious topics, but without someone saying there is another way to cope with these hardships, it’s hard to get past this glorification of suicide. I’m afraid people aren’t going to see the message the creators of the series originally intended to show its audience.

Moving forward, I hope 13RW remedies this problem by having other characters get the help they need, like Jessica. Because more than anything, people need to hear the words, It will get better.” 

As someone who has experienced issues with mental illness, showing how other people get through it, can motivate others do the same.



4 thoughts on “The Problem With 13 Reasons Why

  1. I see what you’re saying but I feel like it’s unfair to say the show does it “wrong” when there are a lot of people who relate to it. This is only one example of how a sequence of events can occur and just because it doesn’t match someone else’s or what people imagined, or thought should happen, doesn’t mean it’s invalid. No on has the right to say Hannah’s experience doesn’t matter because she did this or, didn’t do that, or could’ve realized something. Everyone’s experience isn’t the same and everyone handles situations differently

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re absolutely right that her experience is different from others but my problem is that it doesn’t portray suicide in a way that lets people know that there IS an alternative besides a PSA message at the beginning or end of a show. In a show that’s trying to bring awareness to a topic like suicide, I’m saying it would have been more impactful to see someone receive the help and see that journey instead.


    • This show alone cannot display everything that people need to know. And unfortunately , the way it happened (where no one thought to talk about suicide prevention resources until she was already dead) is very accurate and most likely the way that it does come to discussion in schools. A lot of things could make it more impactful but that still doesn’t mean it’s “wrong.” And it did show an alternative. Hannah tried to get help. Mr. Porter failed to do his job. The reality is though, seeking help doesn’t help everyone. Example Madison Holleran. Whether we like it or not for some people this is reality. Not everyone understands or feels that there are alternatives and even when they do it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to or “think” it should. You know what I mean? I agree that there are a million different ways that this story could have been told but in actuality the cast and executive producers have done a lot to raise awareness and be proper allies

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to agree with Bookmark Chronicles. I see nothing wrong with the fact that the show/book portrayed Hannah’s suicide the way it did because it was showing the opposite end of the spectrum — what happens when the person does not receive the help or support they need. It is very common for people suffering through these kinds of issues “give up” easily like Hannah did or fail to seek help at all, and I think it is just as important to show what might happen in those cases. If all books/shows dealing with mental illness and suicide ended with the person getting the help and support they need and coming through it stronger, it would be great but it doesn’t really show the full range of possible stories. I thought the show did an excellent job of raising awareness because of this. It showed how seemingly small actions can have such a huge affect on other people’s lives. I personally find this much more impactful than seeing nothing but survival stories.


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