UPDATE: This blog post was originally published in June 2011. Now Netflix has adapted Thirteen Reasons Why to film, so I find myself thinking about it again. I don't plan on watching the series; I have better things to do. But I think making the show was a bad idea for the reasons below.
And I still recommend keeping this story away from teens you're worried about.
Now, not only does Hannah pull off the perfect suicide, but she and everyone involved is super attractive, not just the ordinary teenagers you might imagine while reading. It's not just the Hoosiers of suicide anymore, it's the Avengers of suicide.
Read this book instead of watching Thirteen Reasons Why.
Okay, so I know I've been posting a lot of depressing suicide-related stuff on here, but I'm kind of writing a book about it, you know? Like the thing over there —> says, I write about basically whatever I want. And today I want to talk about Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
Even if you've never read Thirteen Reasons, you've probably heard of it. It's the story of Hannah who recently committed suicide as told on audiotapes to the thirteen people she blames for pushing her to it. Actually, it's Clay's story as he listens to the tapes. He had a crush on Hannah, but didn't act to stop her from killing herself.
Oh, was that mocking? Mmm, maybe a little.
Before I go any further, let me say that it's a pretty good book. I couldn't put it down and enjoyed reading it for the most part. It deserves most of the praise people have given it.
Okay, now here's what I want to say: Hannah, you have thirteen reasons and they're all other people? You lucky girl! Most of us feel like we have only ourselves to blame. (Which hurts pretty bad in and of itself.)
No, actually that wasn't what I meant to say. Change course a little.
NEVER recommend this book to a teenager who might be thinking about suicide. (Did you notice the caps-bold-italic-underlined word? Now that's emphasis.)
Disclaimer: Not everyone is like me, so maybe I'm wrong. But really, why take chances?
By showing the aftermath of a successful suicide, the book glorifies it. Some kids will see the sorrow Hannah left behind and think that's exactly what they want. No one loves them now, but if they die, everyone will. (Some of them may be right.)
It's a success story. It's the Hoosiers of suicide. Hannah pulls off a difficult feat to perfection, and gets exactly the effect she intended. It's inspiring.
The important thing is the feeling it leaves you with. Stories are powerful. Don't underestimate them. For most people, Thirteen Reasons Why elicits a desire to reach out to someone, to talk or listen more. It made me want to kill myself. Not because I felt sad or depressed. It simply reminded me of suicide's appeal, something I haven't felt for a long, long time.
And if it can do that to me now, what would it have done twelve years ago?