By Dylan-Sage Wilcox
Suicide is one of the hardest topics to address, yet a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007 tackles this important issue. “13 Reasons Why” has been adapted to film for Netflix. The story follows the aftermath of the death of Hannah Baker who takes her own life. She leaves behind a series of cassette tapes that explain the thirteen reasons why she killed herself, she explains in these tapes that each character in the story had contributed to her decision. The main character, Clay Jensen, discovers the tapes in a box delivered to his home shortly after Hannah’s death and finds out he was one of the thirteen reasons why the suicide happened.
“Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers,” the website’s synopsis of the book said. The series on Netflix has already been popular with young adult audiences.
Mary Leishman, in her review of “13 Reasons Why” said, “This is important because it brings awareness to the issue and shows the warning signs that you can look for in someone who is contemplating harming themselves. This story is phenomenally written and brilliantly directed.” Leishman, who also attempted suicide in high school added, “I have heard a lot of speculation that this story is ‘unrealistic’ and for some it may be, but to me this felt like I was watching a TV series of my high school years on Netflix and it was extremely real.”
Although there are some who see “13 Reasons Why” as an attention-grabber to one of society’s most important issues, others felt that the series’ use of graphic language and other extreme elements, such as rape, made for a distasteful experience.
“I have watched the first few episodes and will not be continuing the series… I don’t understand why they have to include such graphic betrays and so many swear words in movies (and books). I stick to young adult fiction and even that is starting to have the same graphic and vulgar things that the rest of it does. Very sad,” said Stacey Hilderbrandt.
In recent years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been addressing suicide and the affects it has on families who deal with it. In an article produced by the Church, they write, “Suicide is a global public health issue that can often be prevented. While it is a complex situation with no single cause, the risks can be reduced when family, friends, ward members, and mental health professionals come together to help those who are struggling. Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention and should learn the risk factors and warning signs.”