by Anju Ito

The recently-released TV Drama 13 Reasons Why proved to be a shock to teens and adults all over the nation with its blatant display of the lives of teenagers.

With suicide rates rising over the years, this drama touches on a current issue especially impacting to the younger audience as suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 44 and under, according to the American Foundation Suicide Prevention.

Although actual suicides don’t occur on daily basis around us, ‘suicide’ constantly surrounds us everywhere––we hear people talking about it and discussing it, often even joking about it; many of us would probably have thought about it and what would happen if we died; we sometimes see it written on the desks and walls of classes and bathrooms.

To me, 13 Reasons Why made me think about all the academic, social, and the overall pressures we are constantly getting. We all try to be a good student, keep the ideal personal and fit in, pretending everything is alright so we won’t worry our close friends and families, and that’s why for me, 13 Reasons Why seemed like a plausible and realistic result that can actually occur in real life. Because of this, even days after watching the drama, this story made me think about what we should actually value in life, what I can do and why all this is happening.

For adults, 13 Reasons Why can provide insight into the modern teenager school life while arousing much-contrasting reactions regarding this topic and the characters’ actions: some attempt to understand the actual conflicts that teenagers are facing on a daily basis while others condemn teenagers for their rash and consequence-ignoring actions.

It’s probably much different looking at things from an adult and teenager point of view. I’ve heard adults talking about their younger and present years, and how they were fed up with worries about their future and their life in their teenage years while this all began to disappear after a while. Watching the movie, I felt that during the teenage years, people try to discover themselves: who they are, what they want to be like, who they want to be with, everything. And I think that it’s very easy to criticize the drama because most characters are far from perfect with Hannah repeating similar mistakes with boys, people doing illegal things and others handling situations wrongly.

But is this the part to criticize? I think that all of them, despite their obvious wrong and self-centered decisions, did things the best they could in their present circumstances. They may reflect back on them as stupid decisions and it probably is, but I think that they are still in the process of learning about how everything works, and there would almost always be someone like Bryce in the movie somewhere.

Instead of in the teenagers, I felt that the bigger issue presented by the drama was the environment that shaped all their characters: abusive parents that resulted in an uncaring child, unhelpful authorities not able to give a helping hand when they needed it the most and hostile atmospheres forcing students to try to fit in. Watching 13 Reasons Why, I saw a greater importance in these things instead of the actual characters which, of course, matters greatly as well. Watching this show, I had a thought. I want us to fight the environment. I want us to be able to understand the basic good and bad and have the willpower in order to fight the oppressing atmosphere that surrounds us. In order to ensure these things won’t happen, we should try and turn the tide over by helping each other out, because how far will it go with those non-bullying posters that the authorities puts up?