I stayed away from “Thirteen Reasons Why” for a long time. I heard it contained a lot of triggering scenes, and it’s not quite what you’d want to watch after a long, stressful day.
However, over Christmas break, I couldn’t stop myself from starting it, for whatever reason, and now I don’t know how to feel. People have varying opinions about it and I understand why.
Intense scenes of violence, sexual assault and suicide all occurred, holding nothing back. Hannah, the main character, undergoes a variety of relatable problems. The show gives no trigger warnings, and I know of friends who would’ve really appreciated these before watching scenes that displayed intense situations similar to their own.
Suicide is shown as a way out and revengeful. The show doesn’t present all of the internal battles and mental health issues someone goes through in his or her mind before reaching the point of suicide. It makes suicide seem like something that’s always planned out well in advance, and it doesn’t clearly indicate that sexual assault isn’t a survivor’s fault. For a show wanting to increase awareness about mental health and suicide prevention, it doesn’t reach its full potential. These are only a few problems -- many others and I have additional issues with this show.
However, I do appreciate the intentions of those who created it. I appreciate that it’s shedding a light on issues such as sexual assault and how every problem, big or small, can add up. I appreciate how Clay notices Skye is struggling and decides to reach out. I appreciate that https://13reasonswhy.info/ provides resources for people who need support. And frankly, for whatever reason, I found the show to be addicting; I couldn’t stop myself from watching episode after episode.
To my understanding, season two will focus more on sexual assault as an epidemic that typically occurs more than once by the same perpetrator. I also heard that after each episode, the cast will have a discussion about mental health. It’s definitely important to have these conversations, and I hope they’re carried out to the fullest, that trigger warnings are added and that scenes of violence aren’t as graphic.
To anyone who’s interested in watching, I strongly encourage you to watch with caution, to not watch alone, and to know whom you trust and can reach out to if you need support. There’s no shame in that.
If you don’t feel comfortable watching, that is totally okay -- it doesn’t make you weak and it won’t limit the conversations you can have with others.
To those who are interested in making a difference, consider getting trained in Mental Health First Aid, speaking in non-stigmatized language, understanding rape myths, and being aware of resources, such as those below.