‘13 Reasons Why’: Netflix Captures the Pain of Teen Suicide
Fatima Rivera | Contributing Writer
Suicide is a hard hitting topic that has been on the rise for years. TV shows and movies have touched on the subject, but don’t really show the impact it has on people unless it occurs in real life. Based on the 2007 bestselling novel by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” premiered March 31 on Netflix. Many fans tuned in to see how they adapted the story, one that was on the rise throughout their middle and high school years.
Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) is seen staring at Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) locker, who committed suicide two weeks prior. The locker is now decorated with flowers and cards from fellow students who express their feelings towards her death. Clay goes through his classes looking at where she sat and how students are interacting around him.
When Clay comes home, he discovers a package for him which contain 13 audio tapes and a map of the town. When he listens to the first one, Hannah’s voice comes on and explains that each tape states why she killed herself and that whoever is in possession of the tapes contributes to a reason. As he listens, he begins to piece together what was happening with her between his point of view and hers. Clay then starts to get justice for her by confronting the other people on the tapes, revealing to be other students who were once close to her.
There were many differences between the book and show that helped the story become more immersive and deeper than it originally was. In the book, Clay went through the tapes in one night. In the show, it takes him a number of days to a week to get through them where he takes his time listening to each one and even putting off due to it being very painful.
“13 Reasons Why” not only captured Clay and Hannah’s story but it also branched out to other characters to show what they were doing during that present time and how they were coming to grips with the truth of what they have done to Hannah. It also set a storyline for Hannah’s parents, who were barely in the book, giving them their own story. It showed how each of them grieved and tried to understand what went on in their daughter’s life.
The show also touches on the subject of self-harm and rape, which is seen occurring throughout the episodes. There’s even an advisory before the beginning of the episode so viewers can brace themselves for the gruesome tragedy.
At the end of the season, a special bonus is shown called “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons.” Each cast member, including Selena Gomez, talks about the importance of suicide awareness, where to reach help and how they can relate to each character.
Universal Studios purchased the film rights to the novel and announced that Selena Gomez would portray Hannah Baker back in 2011. Later in 2015, Netflix decided to make it into a TV adaptation. Gomez decided to become an executive producer to help capture the true purpose of the story. Filming took place in Northern California in Vallejo, San Rafael, Crockett and Sebastopol, during 2016. Rotten tomatoes gave a 93 percent approval and Metacritic a 76 percent with “favorable reviews.”
“13 Reasons Why,” captured every truth and emotion involving suicide and how words can impact a person’s life. Each character and scene was set to be realistic and stands out from many others. It is a must watch for anyone of all ages and a story that will evoke further discussion.