Several years ago, the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, was recommended to me by a therapist the boy was seeing at the time. The book, which was published in 2007 dealt with teen suicide as the result from bullying–some subtle and some quite overt; was written for the young adult audience and was a quick, but compelling read. A few years later, after the doll read a different book that ended with a teen suicide, she became very upset-rightly so. I invited her to read this book, to give her a different point of view and to open (and remain open) a dialogue between the two of us.
Last Friday, online entertainment network Neflix, released the book as a thirteen episode series and over the weekend, the doll and I binge watched, finishing up last night. If you have a teenager, 13 Reasons Why, the book by Jay Asher is a must read. If you have Netflix, I strongly recommend this series for your teen, so long as you have the time to watch along with them. In addition, there is a thirty minute wrap up with the writers, producers, actors and child psychologists to help parents understand how the teenage brain is wired and why suicide may look like the best answer–when we all know this is the furthest thing from the truth.
Billed as a drama, mystery, the series follows a shy young teen named Clay, who receives a package in the mail containing thirteen audio tapes, created by Hannah Baker, a classmate who recently committed suicide. Before Clay begins listening to the tapes, he’s given the information that other classmates have already listened to them, because every classmate mentioned on them is one of the reasons she killed herself. Neflix does a great job of dramatizing the anger, worry, fear and despair Hannah derived from all the people who let her down, Clay included.
One of the most difficult scenes to watch was Hannah’s suicide as she contemplates and then summons the despair masked as courage to actually kill herself. I kept looking over at my doll, as we both cried at what we were seeing. My heart especially hurt as her parents found their dying child and how powerless they were to stop her from doing so. After we watched the follow-up show, I looked over at my doll and reiterated what I told her the first time she read the book, “I want you to know, anytime you’re having problems at school or with anyone, please talk to me or your dad. While we may not always agree with your decisions, we will never stop loving you and helping you find the answers you need. Nothing will change the love we have for you and I will always be in your corner regardless”. My doll nodded then leaned in for a hug–one we held for sometime. “Death is not an answer to anyone’s problem, only creates more heartache and blame. Please stay safe…” I added before she kissed me goodnight.
I’m not usually one to promote television shows on my blog, but I can’t recommend viewing this series enough, especially if you have a teenage son or daughter. Bullying takes so many forms and wrecks havoc in many lives and I don’t think other kids realize how easy their words or actions hurt others. Perhaps reading or watching Thirteen Reasons Why, may be the best reason they now can or maybe even broach the topic with their parents. I know for my family, it certainly has.