The Real Message Behind '13 Reasons Why'
Start writing a post

The Real Message Behind '13 Reasons Why'

I once interviewed '13 Reasons Why' author Jay Asher. This is what he said about his book.

The Real Message Behind '13 Reasons Why'

I'm on the second episode of 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix series based on the hit novel by Jay Asher. I want to binge but I'm watching it with my mom, and we don't watch enough shows or movies together anymore so I'm refraining. I like it. I love Tony's car, and I love Clay's family dynamic. I have some gripes with the show—specifically, Hannah being a stock character (her name was Alaska Young in John Green's Looking for Alaska.)

I read 13 Reasons Why when I was in the 8th grade, so I already have a general idea what is going to happen. Back then I compulsively read books about mental illness, especially suicide. The topic has always been a point of curiosity for me, especially after I was personally faced with it. It's impossible to fully understand the feelings needed to drive someone to end their own life unless you've been there yourself. And even when those feelings subside, you don't forget. You never forget. The nature of those feelings intrigued me, so I read books about them.

I've already written about It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, which absolutely empowered me to get to where I am today. You can read that article here. As for 13 Reasons Why, it didn't resonate with me like some other works did, but it was good, yeah. I thought it was a respectable book.

Back then I was a part of this blog called "Teens Writing for Teens." We had guest authors do online interviews sometimes, and I thought it was worth a shot to send Jay Asher some questions in hopes that he would respond. He responded. You can find the entire interview here. I'd like to look at one of his responses in particular:

Andrew: Thirteen Reasons Why is a very serious novel. Is there a message in the novel that you want readers to grasp?

Jay Asher: As Hannah says, you never know what’s going on in anyone’s life but your own. Someone who looks like they have it all together may actually be going through quite a lot. And everyone handles life’s pressures differently. While Hannah herself is not without fault, it still all comes down to the Golden Rule. So that’s the main thing I was trying to say. Always treat people with respect because you never know what else they’re dealing with. As well, I want people who are hurting to realize how important it is for them to honestly reach out for help.

I've seen many tweets, Facebook statuses, texts, memes, and real life interactions discussing the meaning and morality behind 13 Reasons Why. The show has been accused of glamorizing and even encouraging suicide. Hannah wants to go out with a bang, one last middle finger to everyone she thought contributed to her death. She wants revenge. I get that, and I understand how some people may not like it.

But that is not why Jay Asher wrote 13 Reasons Why.

Have you heard the story of Ryan Patrick Halligan? He hung himself after being harassed online and in real life. What about Megan Meier? She hung herself too after a fake account was created by the MOTHER OF HER FORMER FRIEND to deceive, trick, and ultimately humiliate her. Tyler Clementi? He jumped off a bridge when his roommate spread a secret video of him kissing a man. Amanda Todd—surely you must know of her. She committed suicide after a disturbed internet psycho shared nude pictures of her time and time again. Jamie Hubley? Phoebe Prince? The list of young people, reduced only to names, driven to suicide by bullying feels endless. Something must change.

It's in the Golden Rule.

Yes, these children had severe mental health issues. Yes, it was their decision in the end. But it is utterly ridiculous to argue that the lies, rumors, and cyberbullying on the scale that Hannah faces do not directly contribute to her decision. She was mistreated, constantly. She was wronged, constantly.

This happens. This is real. Teenagers do this to their peers. And kids die because of it. And the tapes are cruel and messed up, but that part is real, too. Stuff like that really happens.

If you're caught up on the tapes, you aren't looking at the big picture. Hannah's tapes are literally commentary on the very, very real problems that killed her, that kill real people. Hannah's message—the entire point of the show—is that you have an effect on people around you. Your actions have consequences. Here are the tapes—here is the proof. Here is what you can do better.

Thank you again to Jay Asher, 7 years later, for the interview.

From Your Site Articles
Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Let me just say, first and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is known as a time for families to get together, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to dig into a lot of very delicious food that you'll be having as leftovers for the next week. However, this family time is certainly not without downsides, as we are forced to confront certain family members on matters that should best be left out of Thanksgiving discussion, and in my case, this happens to be my father, who is the only republican in our family (that I know of).

(FYI: Since I still live with my dad, it's not just Thanksgiving when I'm forced to listen to him talk about politics, as I had gotten a taste of where he stands just from earlier this year alone.)

Keep Reading... Show less
Peter Truong

If you still have not figured out what you want to cook on Thanksgiving, baked macaroni and cheese is something worth considering. It is simple, affordable, and delicious. I have had many different types of baked mac and cheese and most are dry. I do not like a dry mac and cheese, it just does not seem appealing to me. If you like the creamy cheesy essence of mac and cheese, look no further, this recipe is for you.


Keep Reading... Show less

As a first-year college student, I've been doing a lot of meeting and introducing myself to people, often with the classic format of "name, hometown, major".

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

This Simple 7-Step DIY Face Mask Combines Safety — And Sustainability

Instead of studying like I intended on doing today, I made a face mask for some reason and thought I'd share how I did.


If you were looking for a simple way to make a mask, I am happy to share how I personally make them. I have a pretty small face in general, so I prefer having my homemade ones so they fit better. This is also a great alternative to just throwing away any clothes! Before starting, you will need to make sure you have fabric, thread, a needle, and pins; if you have a sewing machine, you obviously could use that instead of hand sewing it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Ways To Handle The Stress Of Earning Your Degree From Your Childhood Bedroom

Oh so this was the room where I snuck cookies upstairs past my bedtime and stole R-Rated movies to watch when my parents were asleep and now I'm expected to earn my degree in this very same room?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It's definitely not easy, but it's something so many kids are struggling with right now.

Keep Reading... Show less

November is such an underrated month. With all the excitement that comes with Halloween ending and the holiday season around the corner, some people skip over it and go straight to their Christmas playlist. For me though, November is the perfect time to compile a playlist of songs that bring on major nostalgia which I think is perfect for this time of year. If you're looking for something to get you in that thankful spirit before you head into the Christmas spirit or something to play while you enjoy Friendsgiving, here are some go-to songs to add to your November playlist.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift is famous for her Easter eggs on social media that hint at what is coming next for her. Over the past few days, fans noticed a change in Swift's hair when she was accepting her win as Apple's songwriter of the year that was reminiscent of the "Red" era. Of course, this has caused widespread speculation that Swift has begun to re-record her masters.

Keep Reading... Show less

While joyful, the holiday season can also be stressful for many and that's A-O.K. Plus, with the added tension that is 2020, this year's holiday season is a lot, to put it simply.

This is your reminder to put yourself first and listen to what you're yearning for. Deep down, you know what you need to thrive and I know that you can get there.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments