13 Reasons Why
If you‘ve been sucked into one of the latest Netflix series, you’ll be familiar with Hannah Baker, Clay Jensen and everyone in and around Liberty High.
Hannah, a 17 year-old girl, takes her life but just beforehand, she records 13 reasons: which are the people and things they did to her, that led her to that point.
A community’s reaction
There are 13 episodes, each one outlining the events and people responsible mixed with the current day. We watch a community coming to terms with the aftermath of a youth suicide and the different ways it affects them.
Her parents are understandably overwhelmed with grief as are many of her peers while also experiencing confusion and guilt. This is especially in the cases of her peers who are implicated by her recordings.
It is not easy watching.
***Potential spoilers ahead
The things that happen to Hannah at the beginning are challenges that many young people experience growing up: making and losing friendships, feeling left out, coming to terms with sexuality and unrequited attraction.
There are cracks in the clouds with glimpses of funny and cute moments, but these really highlight how events become darker as the show goes along.
The consequences of some horrible bullying snowball, leaving Hannah feeling increasingly isolated when things, if you can believe it, take a turn for the worse and ultimately lead her to take her life.
More similar than different
It’s set in the US, so of course there are differences with Ireland but for the most part, it’s all the similarities that stand out. There are some themes that will really resonate with people here.
School can be really tough and not just because of academic pressure. In our recent survey, teenagers selected it as the second most likely cause of stress. People can be harsh, judgemental and even cruel when we’re growing up.
Developing friendships, maintaining them, learning that not all friendships are forever can be tough lessons.
Being unable to connect with others your own age and feeling you’re on the outside looking in can be a lonely, scary place. If this is something you recognise, you may be surprised to know that there are many others who feel like you.
We just don’t see them. We see the gangs of people laughing and hanging out together either at school or on social media and it can reinforce the sense that we don’t fit in.
The thing about school is, it changes all the time. Each week, term, or day can be different. Dynamics shift and change. You may not always feel like this.
Spend some time finding things that you do enjoy and immerse yourself, outside of your school work. This will enhance your self-esteem and make you feel less lonely.
Taking part in things is also a way to meet new people, or others who are like-minded and outside the school boundaries.
Thoughts of revenge
When a friend decides that you are no longer friends, or we are at the receiving end of bullying behaviour, feelings of revenge can consume us.
The anger we can feel can be our energy to get through the day with daydreams of scenarios “that would show them”. For the most part we don’t put them into action, which is a good thing. But, if we find we are having all-consuming negative thoughts, it’s time to talk to someone you trust and work through your feelings of hurt.
Feelings of regret
There’s a lot to take in 13 reasons why. The strongest theme is revenge and making people feel regret which is not a healthy or helpful message.
It’s produced in a very compelling way, so you can find yourself binging a few episodes in a row quite easily but there are some helpful things to take from it too.
In one of the last flashback scenes with Hannah, she wonders if we could all just be a bit nicer to each other and give each other a break. It’s one of the lines that makes the most sense.
School is hard enough, so if we’re all a bit kinder to each other it can make it easier to get through.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues
There’s some really upsetting stuff here though, so take a look at following articles if anything resonated with you while watching it: