Thirteen Reasons Why and it’s reflection of young adult mental health:
I am sure alot of you reading this will have either read the book or watched the series on Netflix and are thinking ‘oh not another review’ however for me thirteen reasons why and myself had a lot in common however some details are too personal to share just yet.
You are introduced to a young man, Clay Jensen and you are joined on his journey to bring justice for his friend Hannah Baker. Hannah is a seventeen year old high school student with a bright future ahead of her, she took her life on a seemingly calm afternoon. Why is this important ? Suicide is the third leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. It is reported that over 6000 people between these ages take their own lives yearly.
It isn’t an unknown fact that teen bullying has been a much talked about subject over the last few years and somewhat more frequently, especially when it comes to cyber bullying. This is one of the worst forms of bullying as the bully can hide behind technology and cause alot of pain from a distance.
Depression, anxiety and personality disorders are being more and more linked to childhood bullying however there is still alot of information being swept under the carpets when it comes to talking about mental health.
“Thirteen reasons why” covers alot of topics that seem to make many adults uncomfortable: rape, bullying and suicide are the main topics that are covered.
Growing up and going through both primary and secondary school, bullying was never really an approachable subject. I personally had a better experience in secondary school than I did in primary school.
“Thirteen reasons why” shows several scenes in which Hannah Baker is bullied by her peers. Classmates sent explicit messages of Hannah around the school and was placed on a list along with other girls in her grade with the title “best arse” and countlessly degraded and paraded round like a piece of meat or a trophy to any guy who could bed her. I know some of you will be thinking “why did she let this photo be taken” however alot of girls are pressured into taking degrading photos for a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘a crush’ and don’t think about the consequences. This is yet again another sign of cyber bullying which is not highly spoken about.
In addition to the excessive bullying Hannah faced daily, she not only witnessed the rape of a friend at a ‘high school party’, but was also raped by the same guy later in the school year at yet again another ‘high school party’. 33% of woman who are raped contemplate suicide, if they are not given the correct support.
In the final episode Hannah builds up the courage to speak to the school counsellor and open up about her traumatic experience. Hannah was asked questions like “did you say no?” “was alcohol involved?” “were there any drugs?” what does it matter ? So what if there were drugs or alcohol present ? “Did you say no?” is such a damaging and highly accusatory question, to me this sounds like victim blaming, which seems to happen alot when a rape is reported to the police. Why is this ?
Following Hannah’s unsuccesful session with her counsellor, she is seen going to the post office, and going home, running a bath and pulls out the razor blades she stole from her parents pharmacy while they were present and takes her life. Throughout the series her mum frequently makes statements such as “how did I not know? I am her mother” And the parents of Hannah’s class mates say “my son/daughter is such a good kid, they would never…” and her classmates made statements like “it is unbelievable” but Is it really ? Were the signs not there all along?
For me personally I could spot the tell tell signs of depression throughout several episodes before her suicide, these signs went unoticed by those she was surrounded by daily. Mental health is not spoken about or publicised enough. We as a society need to slow down and look around us and even more so at the ones we are close to and think that anyone can get on with their day to day life however we never know what is truely going on inside. As a mental health sufferer who has felt extremely low and depressed and has contemplated suicide in the past knows what it is like being ignored and not taken seriously when seeking help, advice and support.
Being female and going through so many of these awful and traumatic events I know exactly how Hannah was feeling, however please do not forget that this may also happen to males as well as females and I personally feel this is even more hidden and undiscussed.