Let’s Talk About Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”

I’m a certified Crisis Responder for an Online Crisis network. That means we’re on the other end of those chats, ready to listen anonymously to anyone who needs it, and most are on the brink of giving up. Suicide is on their mind. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my Facebook post about that new Netflix show “13 Reasons Why“.

If you watched it and liked it and it caused you no harm, good. I’m glad that you have that mental and emotional strength. What you have to understand, though, is that there are people who don’t. Is it heartbreaking? Yes. Many people can handle a little entertainment-heartbreak without it having any lasting effect. Maybe even you can. Heck, we all need a little Lifetime Movie heartwarming now and then. Even I need a good cry every once in a while.

Yes, there are Trigger Warnings. We can’t control whether people choose to heed them or ignore them, unfortunately.

But the very definition of heartbreaking revolves around “causing overwhelming distress; very upsetting.” There are people of all ages, but especially young, vulnerable people, who are not in the mental and emotional state to come back from something that glamorizes the scary thought they’ve been keeping hidden from the world because they already think or feel that No One Loves them or Cares about them. They believe that no one FEELS anything for them. These people can’t see any reason to keep going and it makes suicide look heartbreakingly beautiful. Heartbreak is a feeling, and the idea that someone will finally FEEL something about their existence is something they yearn for.

Rolling Stone posted an article by Alexa Curtis tackling this very subject. “Most teens don’t leave tapes for 13 people to realize how they assisted in someone’s suicide. Due to the tapes, we don’t witness the utter emptiness and grief that occur after someone commits suicide. Dead is dead, and as much as it may be hard to portray that on screen, 13 Reasons Why fails to end the last episode with closure. For teens who are battling mental health issues, witnessing the end of a life as easily as the show portrayed it could help desensitize kids to this very serious matter.” Note the key word here is: could.

Bear with me while I try to explain to you an example of what can go through the mind of someone suffering from that kind of darkness:

*Look at all the pain those tapes caused to those people who played parts in her life (and the decision to die). If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t be in pain, so their suffering and grief must mean they care about her and love her. Maybe if I do it people will finally care about me, too. Maybe people will grieve for me. Maybe someone will finally love me.*

My husband brought up another good point – while it’s likely that as an adult you’re completely capable of determining whether you are strong and healthy enough to simply enjoy the show for what it is, you can’t really make that decision for other people. Like the tragedy of that young 11-year-old who killed himself presumably because his girlfriend pretended she died to play a prank on him TO SEE IF HE REALLY LOVED HER – his mom Never saw it coming.

Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. If you watched it and/or read the book (the book takes a more appropriate stance on the story), I hope you can use that experience to help someone who might not be where you are. Suicide is not beautiful.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Twitter

A list of International Suicide Hotlines

Veteran’s Crisis Line

Reddit – Suicide Watch

Reddit – Depression

To Write Love On Her Arms

7 Cups of Tea – Free, anonymous and confidential online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists & counselors


If you or someone you know is currently in danger, please dial 911 immediately. 


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