*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. ❤︎