13 Reasons Why is
a Netflix original series that explores bullying, sexual assault and suicide. Those
who have watched it often describe it as unsettling, yet compelling. Those who
haven’t watched it, should.
For those interested in discussing the series, here are some
questions. Pick any questions you are interested in, or suggest your own.
Hannah’s parents love her, but were heavily
distracted by their financial situation. They are arguably those most affected
by her death, yet she leaves them no note, only the tapes sent to 13 others. Why
do you think Hannah left them out from her ‘voice from beyond the grave’?
Mental illness is present in 90% of suicide
cases. Critics say the show fails to accurately represent suicide because it is
not clear that Hannah has a mental illness. Did Hannah have a mental illness? How
might a mental illness diagnosis affected Hannah’s life?
Clearly the show makes compromises between
reality and entertainment (e.g. Clay listening to the tapes over such a long period).
Yet by making the show entertaining, it has succeeded in raising widespread awareness
of bullying, sexual assault and suicide. How effective has 13 Reasons been compared to public health campaigns with the same
goal? What role is there for the entertainment industry in public health
Mr Porter had a professional responsibility for
Hannah’s wellbeing and is also the only adult on the tapes. Do these factors
make him more negligent in his failing to help Hannah? How did you compare his
role in Hannah’s death with the others?
When we ‘see the signs’ of suicide, we are
recommended to refer people to professionals (usually a hotline). Is there more
we can do to prevent suicide in our own roles, as friends, family or even
acquaintances (as Clay does with Sky in the final scene)?
Hannah’s suicide is a premise of the show, which
allows us to see her falling apart as the series goes on. The signs are there for
Alex too – alcohol abuse, dark moods, distracted in school, talking about
suicide ‘So if I kill myself, do you die to?’ How well did you anticipate his
suicide attempt, without the privilege of hindsight?
What do you think Hannah hoped to achieve
through the tapes?
I haven’t watched it, so I’m going to hide away in case I see spoilers.
I’m going to go with answering Question 4 about the guidance counsellor…. because above all his actions ticked me off most.
I was so very very angry at the idea that an adult, whose responsibility is to support vulnerable teenagers, thought the advice that boiled down to “just get over it” was in anyway appropriate.
I hated it because vulnerable people who reach out should never have to hear “get over it”; and I hated it because people who’ve been raped (especially by someone who doesn’t think they’ve even done anything wrong) need solutions not useless platitudes. They need to know it isn’t their fault, they need to know they are not alone and will be supported,
Regardless of whether criminal charges can be laid (because prosecutors aren’t fans of he said/she said), Mr Porter’s entire job is to support his students, especially the vulnerable ones. And in the moment when she was looking for support, his advice was to forget what happened and move on – like being raped was something minor that you just move past.
I realise that he had his own things going on at the time – but the simple intervention of “we should talk more about this tomorrow” or “you should come see me again so we can keep talking” would have helped her know that he was there for her, that even if he can’t help punish the rapist, he can help her and be there for her.
Once upon a time, I had a guidance counsellor like him. What I was going through does not compare to Hannah’s issues, but his lack of ability/want to help me was not good. I can only imagine the damage he did to students in my grade who were at a far greater risk that me.
As with @ElleBelle! Although I do want to see what all the fuss is about at some point. Just not sure I want to spend my relaxing time watching graphic abuse scenes.
@CloakOfAsh I totally get the not wanting to watch the graphic scenes. They were (intentionally) very uncomfortable to sit through. My trick was to not so much stare at the screen during that, and then keep watching to the end of the episode – because none of the episodes end on violence.
I binged pretty much from episode 9-13… so I got all the graphic stuff out in one day and had the prologue to back it up (which really really helped).
Also – If you’re unsure of watching, you can always skip 9, 12 and 13 (they come with big graphic warnings at the start of the episode).
I second what @MsBlueStreak says about not wanting to watch the graphic scenes (which were not easy viewing). Along with the warnings at the beginning of episodes, the scenes are not ‘sprung’ on viewers so you can skip them as they approach. Regardless of those scenes, I appreciate the case for whether to watch the series at all. It does have fun, heart-warming moments, but is no means a barrel of laughs. It’s also been criticised as sensationalising the issues, which is related to question 3.
@MsBlueStreak Thanks for replying! I had a similar response to Mr Porter’s counselling session with Hannah. It was a textbook ‘what not to say’ response; I could barely believe he didn’t know better. I’m sorry to hear you had a guidance counsellor like him – they are sometimes (as in Hannah’s case) a last resort, and when they aren’t helpful it can be like ‘wow, even they couldn’t help me…now what?’. I’m hoping our increased awareness of bullying and mental health has improved the standard of school counsellors since then.
@walk_on_walls my biggest issue with the bad counsellor is that he followed a truly excellent one, and was landed on us at the same time as we had a change of school leadership.
The terrible counsellor, we all found out after the fact, had his own mental health issues and was viewing students concerns as they measured up to his own problems. If you didn’t measure up to his difficulties, then you got blown off. If he thought you measured up, then he often catastrophised what you were going through (making it worse not better).
Anyways, I’m glad that 13 Reasons Why raised that and gave me a chance to remember how much a bad counsellor can hurt, and how much a good one can make a difference (that first counsellor in the series, that played friendship match-maker was kinda awesome).