Problematic Thirteen Reasons Why Reviews | We Should Talk

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*This discussion does not contain any spoilers for Thirteen Reasons Why*

Today I am discussing something specific I’ve seen in many reviews I read for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. These are mainly Goodreads reviews. I normally wouldn’t comment on other people’s reviews. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I still believe that and I do respect everybody else’s thoughts and feelings. However, I believe that there is a very problematic message in these specific reviews and I want to talk about it. I just can’t let it go.


Before we start, let me get these things straight:

  • I have studied the subject of suicide and am still studying to become a mental health professional. However, I do NOT claim to know everything about depression/suicide and I CAN’T talk about it from personal experience.
  • I am NOT saying you aren’t allowed to dislike or have varying opinions about Thirteen Reasons Why.
  • I am NOT saying Thirteen Reasons Why is perfect, I definitely had some problems with it too (which I will be discussing in my soon-to-be-posted review).
  • I am NOT saying I approve of suicide. It truly is never the answer. There is always a better option out there for you. 

Now let’s get on with it.

The other day I finished Thirteen Reasons Why and I started looking for some varying positive and negative reviews. I expected to see a lot of people having problems with it. Like I said, I had problems with it too. However, I did not expect to find so many people having problems with Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide.

I found an overwhelming amount of reviews saying things like “she clearly wasn’t showing signs of depression because I have depression and it’s completely different” and “she didn’t have a valid reason to commit suicide because the things that happened to her happen to people all the time”. EXCUSE YOU?! Is absolutely every factor in your life completely identical to Hannah’s? I’m talking about things like your DNA, the way you were raised, your environment, the chemical balances and neural pathways in your brain. Are they identical? No?

THEN WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Nobody experiences depression the exact same way and nobody commits suicide for the exact same reason. There are no guidelines. There is no line that needs to be crossed. Everyone experiences everything through their own unique perspective. You can’t judge someone else’s suffering because you have absolutely no way of knowing how they are experiencing these events. Even if the exact same thing happened to you. The whole point this book is for people to realize that you never know what impact an action might have on someone, however small it might seem to you. By saying Hannah couldn’t have been depressed or didn’t have a ‘valid’ reason to commit suicide, you are contributing to the stigma around mental illness. You are spreading a message that I believe to be hateful and unaccepting. It’s not okay.

PS: We can still be friends if you wrote a similar review to the ones mentioned. Your perspective is different than mine and I respect your thoughts and feelings, even though I might firmly disagree with them. There are no hard feelings between us. This discussion might seem harsh but I just had to get my own thoughts and feelings out there. I hope you can respect them. ❤︎


Schermafbeelding 2017-06-25 om 20.30.01 How do you feel about this?
Do you agree do you disagree?
Feel free to let me know!

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13 thoughts on “Problematic Thirteen Reasons Why Reviews | We Should Talk

  1. I haven’t read too many reviews for 13 reasons why and I’ve only watched half of the show so far (i want to take my time with it) I so far have been enjoying it, but I never knew that people were having issues with her reasons.. it makes me question a lot of things. Like you mentioned no two people experience situations exactly alike and what may seems small (although many of the things that happened to her were very very big) to one person might be a major issue to someone else. It truly isn’t for anyone to judge someone else’s breaking point. It is very problematic in my mind that others are doing just that, passing judgement on someone else’s decision due to how they themselves think they would act.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My thoughts exactly! I couldn’t agree more. Some of the reasons in the book are different than the ones in the show. Like for the first one there isn’t a picture in the book, just a rumor. So they might be seen as less “severe”. However, I don’t think it changes anything. Even if there were no specific events that ’caused’ it at all. It could have resulted from depression due to an imbalance in the brain. Just because something doesn’t seem ‘significant enough’ doesn’t mean you can disregard it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly I haven’t really been reading reviews for the show around the blogging world, because there is already so much input about it out there at school. Luckily, no one I know really questions WHY she committed suicide, because agreeably, that’s just a little harsh. Everyone I talk to about the show actually really liked it, contrarily. I watched half of the season on the airplane, and I thought it was really good so far! My only concern with the show (People have spoiled the whole season for me lol) is how they changed the WAY she commits suicide from book to movie. I don’t really understand why they would want to show people that, because the tv show way is so disturbingly graphic vs when they could have just followed the lines of the book??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad nobody around you has been rude about the reasons why! Reading those reviews actually made me sad. That people could say these things…

      I’ve only seen the first 3 episodes of the show so far. Maybe they changed the way she commits suicide because they think this will give it more of a shock factor and therefore have a bigger impact on people? That’s what I would imagine at least… Not that I think that’s true. It doesn’t need to be extremely graphic to have an impact.

      Anyways. I think both the book and the show have their own problems. But I do enjoy both! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. I didn’t know people were saying things like this. I didn’t love this book (and I’ve not watched the show), but it wasn’t the reasons that bothered me. It was the tone. And I think listening to the audiobook had a lot to do with it. People have their reasons. And depression is a mental illness – it isn’t always logical. That’s why you can’t just look at someone and say, “Oh, hey, but look at this nice thing.” And BAM. Not depressed.

    When I listened to the audiobook, I think the narration just came off all wrong. Because she didn’t SOUND depressed. She sounded kind of cruel and vindictive. Rather than sort of calmly explaining things… idk she kind of sounded like a radio DJ. “Heyyyy, gather round kids, while I tell you a fun little story called, ‘Why I Killed Myself: The Hannah Baker Story.’ Ayyyyo. Jazz hands.” It just made me feel… icky. I wonder if I would have felt different if I’d physically read it. I don’t know if I’m making any sense. But I think that’s what turned me off most of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It totally makes sence. Not clickinh with the narration for a book like this sounds pretty logical. On one side I get you’re point, the radio DJ host thing sounds like it doesn’t really fit. However, I do think that there is another side to it. She recorded the tapes after she had fixed her mind on commiting suicide, but right before she did it. One person might shut down in a situation like that and be really quiet. While another might just be really angry and frustrated. Maybe she just wanted to take it out on them and wanted to hurt them. Maybe she wanted to be ironic and sacrastic about it because of her frustrations or because she already completely disconnected. You can never know how one specific person would deal with the situation. I do understand why it made you feel icky about it, though. Especially if the tone felt off to you. I’m just offering another way to think about it 😊

      I think my main problem with the book was that it seemed to be sensationalizing Hannah’s suicide in some ways. I think it’s mostly due to the formate, using the tapes to reveal the reasons. On the back it says “to find out the secret, press play”. Something about that just seems wrong to me. Like it’s a mystery-thriller-type book.

      (Sorry for the huge reply 😅)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries! I love a good discussion. I actually totally get what you’re saying, and I hadn’t looked at it that way. I know there is no one size fits all for people who are depressed/suicidal. But like I said, it just felt… Icky. That’s the only word I can think of! And actually, I don’t remember the bit about press play to find out the secret. But for sure, that sounds way too much like we’re solving a murder mystery. Haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, this is such an important discussion! I haven’t read the book myself, but I did watch the first 11 episodes of the show before I stopped, but I completely agree with everything you’re saying. Everyone’s experiences with mental illness are different so to say hannah didn’t have a ‘real reason’ to do what she did is basically outcasting the people who can relate to her experiences and invalidating their own mental illnesses which is so dangerous, and I think more problematic than the book itself 😕

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve kind of been hiding from the 13 reasons why stuff to be honest. I read it 7 years ago now actually. At that time I was 13 years old and was suffering with major depressive disorder. I LOVED 13 reasons why so much. It reminded me that there are other people out there that go through things similar to what I was going through.
    Now, little 13 year old me was unable to recognize the things wrong with 13 reasons why being the little impressionable human that I was. I watched the Netflix series, and I plan to reread the book as well for a fresh perspective. It’s frustrating to see that those are some of the negative comments being made toward it. Everyone has a different experience with depression and/or suicide. It’s kind of ironic that the theme of the story is that you never know what impact you may have on someone’s life, and that those making dismissive comments surrounding Hannah’s depression are also neglecting what impact THOSE may have on someone’s life.

    Thanks for making me think! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I agree with what you’re saying that no two people are exactly the same in suicide reasons nor depression and the like. I have never read the book and I do not plan to watch the show due to it being not my thing but from all the reviews I have read I do worry about the lack of talk/discussion in the show regarding mental illness which might have contributed to why she (Hannah) committed suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for writing this post ♥

    I’ve been feeling pretty bad lately because of all the discussion about the book/show and how Hannah’s reasons weren’t “valid” or how people who related to her are experiencing “MI” wrong. It was really starting to get to me so now I’m just avoiding most things about it, haha. Like you said, there are absolutely zero guidelines for how people experience MI. Everyone’s different and there’s no right or wrong way.

    There are definitely issues, but I feel like they can be spoken about without disregarding people’s experiences. Like, I read this book forever ago and it helped me SO much. I felt less alone with thoughts I was having for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad my post was able to help you in some way! I can imagine feeling overwhelmed by everybody talking about mental illness like that. Unfortunately, when people don’t understand what is going on with someone it’s easy for them to just disregard it. It says more about those people than anyone else.
      Don’t let it bring you down! Your feelings and experiences will always be valid ❤

      Like

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