I get it. Others’ feelings aren’t your responsibility, but hey, haven’t you realized that we are all connected in a circle that never ends and in one way or another we really affect each other’s lives? (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Last week, I binge-watched the series Thirteen Reasons Why. I’ve read a lot of reviews about it, both good and bad, inviting people to watch vs refraining people to watch it — I gave in to the former, because it was really intriguing and the theme really caught my attention. I won’t lose anything anyway, and it’s so easy to stop if ever I wouldn’t like what I was watching.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a series adopted by Netflix based on a young adult novel written by Jay Asher. It was published a few years ago, around 2007 or 2008 (I haven’t read it yet though). It’s a story of a girl named Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who committed suicide and left seven tapes that tells the thirteen reasons why she ended her life.
I know those who have read the book and watched the series have their own thoughts about the series, and now, I’m about to share my mixed feelings about it.
It was brave. It was brave for the producers (hello queen, Selena Gomez) to open this topic to a wide range of viewers. Netflix has billions of subscribers worldwide, and this reach could really make a noise with regard to its message.
I’ve read a lot of comments saying that the reasons why she committed suicide are just typical high school drama. They happen to everyone but they still go on with their lives. Hannah was bullied. She was called names, bitch and slut to name a few. She lost friends and got false accusations that she had to live with every day. But in case you forgot, she was also raped, and that made it even worse. People were mean to her. And maybe there’s really a problem with her but does that justify the fact that the people around her were so insensitive that they actually cared for no one but themselves?
I myself experienced bullying when I was in high school until college. And yes, I may have gone through it, but it wasn’t easy. I used to cry in the bathrooms of the school to ask myself several times if there was a problem with me. I do have friends, and they reassured me that no, the problem didn’t lie with me, but with the bullies who used intimidation because they couldn’t admit their weaknesses. I was bullied during high school because I used to run a blog with raw writing skills. I was bullied because of my dark complexion. I was bullied because I was too thin and small and I looked like a malnourished kid. I was bullied during college because I was an active member of different organizations and committees (chorale, dance, college publication, debate, etc.) to make up for my mediocre academic performance. I was bullied because I just ignored it when they called me names because of my dark complexion and because I was too skinny. I was bullied because I never fought back, so they thought it was fine.
Yes, I was able to handle it, because maybe I was strong enough to deal with it. But how about those who have mental health issues who couldn’t face those situations well? Can we blame them?
I’m thankful that at least, through the series, minds were somehow awakened. I hope.
It was brave, but it lacked resolution. Look, I love the fact that they raised awareness but it was too focused on the reasons that it forgot to address the real issues. Hannah was blaming the people who hurt her feelings. It was guilt tripping in its whole sense. Those who were in the tapes had different reactions — one got so affected that they thought they deserved to die too, some didn’t acknowledge their mistakes, some didn’t care, some did try to correct their wrong doings and moved forward. Mental health wasn’t tackled in the way that it should’ve been tackled (or maybe the book really didn’t address it well. I’m still thinking if I would read the book or not). It was presented in a manner that you can name a lot of reasons why you have to end your own life instead of actually facing your mental health issues, though I would commend the part where some of them realized that if only they cared enough, Hannah wouldn’t have committed suicide.
There’s one thing I’ve noticed though. The ending shows a scene on the deposition for the case filed by Hannah‘s parents. The timestamp on the video was around November 2017, and I believe it was trying to tell us one thing: WE CAN STILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE, ONLY IF WE’D BE KIND ENOUGH.
That boy who’s thinking to jump off a building or that girl who’s about to overdose herself with some drugs maybe just needs someone to say that everything’s gonna be okay. Maybe they just need someone to listen. Maybe they just need someone who’s willing to lend their shoulders to lean on.
So hey, if you ever need someone to talk to, if you ever need someone to pour on some words, or to say it’s going to be fine, I’m here. And even though you’re a stranger yet, feel free to consider me as your friend. I’m not saying that things would go back to normal, but it’s going to be okay. Pray, talk to someone, spend some time with people you love, think of happy thoughts. Maybe it’s hard for you now, but this, too, shall pass.
We probably have contradicting opinions about this, or maybe we’re on the same side, but here’s the catch: are we being nice to the people around us? Everyone’s facing a battle, it’s just that each one of us has our own ways of coping. Some do it well, others don’t. You see, we do not know what’s really going on in someone’s mind, and we do not know their whole story. We do not know what they’re going through, and the least we can do is be kind and try our best to treat people well. Perhaps a smile? A tap on the back? Or like what my Mom used to tell me when I was young, if you don’t have anything good to say, better say nothing at all.
I may not be the nicest person ever, but I’ve always tried to see the good in people. I’ve had my fair share of life’s troubles and I’m certainly aware that some people have suffered more than I did. I just hope that the awareness raised by Thirteen Reasons Why won’t vanish when the hype on the series ends.
Just be kind. Please.
P.S. Go check 13 Reasons Why‘s playlist on Spotify. It’s filled with good songs. 🙂