’13 Reasons Why’ creators fail to open up conversations about suicide the right way

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My brother took his own life on June 27, 2005, at only the age of 16.

I’ve never publicly spoken about my brother’s suicide, but a recently released Netflix show is bringing back some memories I hoped I would never have to live through again.

No matter how tragic and painful my brother’s death was, surprisingly, I found myself eager to watch this show: “13 Reasons Why.” The show follows the main character, Clay Jensen, as he listens to 7 tapes (with 13 sides) left behind by Hannah Baker, who explains 13 reasons why she killed herself.

The popular Netflix show has superb acting and filming, but it completely misses the mark on suicide.

My brother Terry was a gentle, kind and rebellious soul. When watching the show, I received the feeling Hannah’s character was too. Hannah’s tapes, along with flashbacks in the show, describe how fellow classmates and more destroyed her life.

I won’t deny it; some pretty horrible things happen to Hannah in the show, including being raped by a fellow classmate and bullied by others.

My brother didn’t leave a note, or in this case tapes. This show has made me wonder what it would have been like if he did leave tapes. What would he say to me? What would he say to my family members or his friends?

I will never know the exact reason why my brother killed himself, but I do know he wouldn’t leave behind a tape telling me whether or not I did anything wrong to him that caused him to take his life. That’s just who my brother was.

Instead of focusing on mental health issues suicidal people tend to face, the creators of the show turned suicide into a teen soap opera with a revenge plot involving whoever did anything wrong to Hannah.

Life sucks and people are vicious, but these elements are not always what leads someone to end their own life. I can’t speak for every suicide because one is different from the next, but smiling or being nice to someone isn’t going to stop someone from taking their own life.

There’s a certain scene in the last episode showing Hannah digging blades into her arms and bleeding to death in a bathtub. The creators of the show don’t just show little parts that may be considered viewer-friendly; they show the whole act from killing herself to her parents finding her with bloody water dripping down the side of the bathtub.

Luck doesn’t seem like the right word to use, but I was lucky to not find my brother. On the other hand, my mom will be scarred for life. If she was in the room with me watching this scene from “13 Reasons Why,” I would be the parent shielding her eyes so she didn’t have to re-live a painful memory.

Nic Sheff, the writer of the show “13 Reasons Why,” defended his reason for showing the suicide act and said “it’s the perfect opportunity to show what an actual suicide really looks like… suicide is not a relief at all — it’s a screaming, agonizing, horror.”

While he may have showed was suicide really looks like, the rest of the show left me feeling like suicide, something that’s permanent, was portrayed as something more temporary. Suicide should not be glamorized.

The creators have failed to open up conversations about suicide the right way.

If you want to help someone struggling with thoughts of taking their own life, get off the couch and consider learning more about mental health issues and how to recognize the signs.