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The original Netflix series ‘13 Reasons Why’ released in March 2017, took the world by storm and started an international dialog revolving around bullying, sexual assault, substance abuse and suicide. The series was heavily criticized for glamorizing suicide; however, the factors contributing towards suicide had been overlooked.
In season one Hannah Baker, a high-school student commits suicide while leaving behind 13 recorded tapes to explain her actions. Hannah left behind her own narrative to define her life and who she was as a person rather than let unfortunate events, gossip and rumors do it for her. The core message which I resonate with is that Hannah wanted the world to know that people don’t spontaneously think, ‘Today, I’ll put an end to my life’, it takes a burdensome pile of events which result in an individual’s mental health being damaged to the extent of them resorting to suicide.
In season 1, Hannah’s tapes only told her side of the story, leaving loopholes throughout the plot. Season 2 in comparison, has a finer and more complete storyline which focuses on the aftermath of Hannah’s death, revealing seemingly missing parts from the storyline in season 1.
’13 Reasons Why’ season two brings forth how the roleplay of a school is vital in a teenager’s life. Teenagers spend a majority of their day at their school; surely, a school cannot be held completely accountable for ongoing issues in the lives of their students outside of school, however, they can strive to be alert and proactive regarding problems happening within the premises of their school.
It is essential for schools to include programs that shed light on bullying, sexual assault, substance abuse and suicide within their curriculums that not only create awareness but also encourage their students to strategically communicate about the aforementioned issues. Unfortunately, there are still uncountable schools globally, including first world countries, which do not have a professional Guidance Counselor who students can approach and confide in regarding their personal problems.
Here are the 13 lessons ‘13 Reasons Why’ Teaches:
1. Never be afraid to share your pain with others; speaking about your struggles will let them know they are not in it alone when it comes to Life’s ups and downs.
2. If you are aware that somebody is going through a tough time, may they be close to you or not, be vocal about your concern for them to let them know that you care as a fellow human being.
3. Anything is a ‘big’ deal and should be confronted if it makes you feel emotionally uncomfortable or disturbed.
4. Stand up for what is right, if you see an individual harming another person don’t let it happen and try your best to make it stop.
5. Do not make excuses for people when you are aware of them hurting others intentionally.
6. Do not become a part of a vicious cycle encouraging rumors, if you hear it let it die once it reaches you.
7. If someone troubled gets angry at you and returns to you to ‘make it up’ for their behavior, forgive them, we’ve all been there.
8. If you know that somebody is ‘trouble’ avoid any contact with them to prevent problematic situations.
9. Do not make it a matter of your pride when your conscience pushes you to apologize, a simple apology can calm the greatest of storms of an individual’s state of mind.
10. Never hold back when you want to tell someone how you feel about them, you opening up will let them open up to you, creating a comfort zone for emotional expression that is an absolute necessity for everybody.
11. No matter how old you get don’t hesitate to seek help from an ‘older’ and wiser figure to sort out messy situations.
12. Just because plenty of people have let you down does not mean the entire world is just as bad, there are always good people out there who exist.
13. Suicide is never an option, life can be mended no matter how damaged it has been because of certain individuals but does not punish yourself for what terrible things they have done to you.
Why does it take something as tragic as suicide to happen for people to realize that they need to be kinder, admit that we’re all struggling in life and should to help each other out of the darkness? We tend to judge others for being ‘messed up’ or getting involved in controversies while overlooking that we too are prone to the very same things. It is vital to keep reminding oneself that bottling up emotions is not healthy or brave, true courage roots from acknowledging what you feel and being able to talk about it without shame.
If you feel powerless, remember that all the power you have is already within yourself; you just need to channelize it in a way to positively impact your life. To those who know someone that is struggling with low self-esteem, bullying, substance abuse or is a victim of rape; do not abandon them, do all that there is you can to rescue them. However, sometimes even the best of intentions fall short of helping those in need and we also need to forgive ourselves for that.
Did you know, Hannah made a list of ‘11 Reasons Why Not’ to end her life; it is that list which should be focused on instead of the ‘13 Reasons Why’ life should be put to an end. Make that list, keep it close by and keep reminding yourself why life should always be given a chance.