13 Reasons Why: The Consequences of Bullying
13 Reasons Why was undoubtedly one of the best TV shows of 2017. Netflix touched on a very controversial subject in this show, which opened our eyes to the consequences of bullying.
13 Reasons Why is a TV show that deals with teenage high school problems. However, it also brings us something new: the bitter side of bullying from the victim’s point of view.
The TV show starts by showing us some high school lockers filled with photos and farewell messages. At the same time, we hear Hannah Baker’s voice telling us that she’s going to share her life story with us. We soon discover that Hannah committed suicide and that we’re going to hear the reasons why she did it. Although life at the high school continues, it seems that nobody has really forgotten what happened to Hannah.
A controversial TV show
Before she died, Hannah decided to ignore 21st-century technology. She recorded the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide on tapes. Each of these tapes is dedicated to a person who did something that led to her suicide. Hannah made sure that these tapes would reach the culprits after her death. They would have to listen to them all and then pass them on to the next person.
In the show, we witness how these tapes fall into Clay Jensen’s hands. He’s a shy young man who was Hannah’s friend.
The TV show was controversial since it talks about bullying and relates it to suicide. Many mental health professionals were against it. From the beginning, the TV show warns us that the content we’re going to see can be unpleasant. It encourages those who are experiencing a similar situation to seek help. However, all these warnings weren’t enough to keep many people from thinking that the show actually encouraged suicide.
13 Reasons Why and bullying
Hannah Baker is a teenage girl who has just moved to a new city with her family. She makes a friend named Kat, but she moves after a short while. Thus, Hannah has to try and meet new people and make new friends.
Adolescence is not an easy stage. It’s when people start to realize just how the world actually works. During this stage, people are no longer children, but they’re not adults either and undergo many changes.
Self-esteem is vital at this stage of life when we all struggle to find our place in society. It seems that, during adolescence, everything revolves around high school. It’s there where you relate to people, try to be accepted, and try to discover who you are. Hannah, like everyone else, starts to become interested in boys. She wants to make friends and feel that she fits in her new school.
Hannah will gradually become disillusioned, however, and loneliness will start to take over. Little by little, the feeling of despair and frustration will make her feel that there’s no other option but to take her own life. It’s not that Hannah is different from the other girls. However, her circumstances and difficulties came together to make her life collapse as if it were a house of cards.
If you haven’t seen the show and you’re thinking about seeing it, I recommend you stop reading now because this article may contain spoilers from here on out.
Are these people all guilty of Hannah Baker’s death? The truth is that, as we listen to the tapes, we ask ourselves whether her reasons are actually convincing.
We can’t help thinking that reasons such as a list of the most beautiful girls or the ones with the nicest butts aren’t as serious as rape. But Hannah puts all these reasons on her list: from misunderstandings and false rumors to rape.
However, what the show expresses is that the consequences of a series of actions (some worse than others) on a certain person are actually the problem, not how serious these actions may seem or not.
Hannah was having a really rough time and she was trying to find her place in the world. She was trying to feel accepted in her new school, but every possibility of happiness that appeared in her life was cut short.
The TV show brings us closer to the psychological harassment Hannah suffered. She felt alone and isolated and the boys labeled her as “easy” due to different false rumors. What the boys saw as “easy”, the girls saw as a threat.
13 Reasons Why and suicide
13 Reasons Why, as its name suggests, narrates the reasons that led Hannah Baker to commit suicide. However, we can sum up all her reasons using one word: depression. This depression was caused by insecurity and changes that left Hannah totally alone, used, and abused. It wasn’t one particular wound, but rather a series of situations that led her to this. They all ended up extinguishing Hannah’s life.
After numerous attacks on her self-esteem, as well as humiliation and psychological abuse, Hannah experiences the final straw: rape. Although Hannah had been trying to get out of her bottomless pit for some time, she finds herself in an even worse situation.
After the rape, Hannah decides to go to the school counselor for help. However, he doesn’t give her any real solution to the problem. At that moment, Hannah loses what was her last hope and makes the terrible decision to end her life.
For some people, Hannah Baker’s suicide was a kind of revenge and that’s why it was so controversial. The truth is that if we think about the twisted idea of the tapes she sent to the guilty ones, it certainly does seem pretty vindictive and bitter.
The consequences of bullying
However, I think that the idea that the show wanted to convey wasn’t revenge. I believe it wanted to show that teenagers should face the consequences of their actions. Also, 13 Reasons Why shows how bullying and Hannah’s suicide affects many different characters.
In the first episode, we see some girls taking selfies next to Hannah’s locker in order to show their sympathy on social media. This just comes off as fake. In the show, Clay and Alex are the most affected characters. Alex, due to the affection he felt towards Hannah and how powerless he felt. Clay is a lot like Hannah. He’s the most emotionally unstable character and is totally unable to bear the guilt of being one of those “responsible” for Hannah’s death.
Not all the characters on the tapes are “bad”. Some are suffering and have other types of internal struggles. The problem is that sometimes it isn’t so easy to accurately anticipate the consequences of our actions during adolescence.