13 Reasons Why, the Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher's bestselling novel about a teenage girl's suicide, is difficult to watch in many ways. Like Clay Jensen, we feel torn between wanting to go through all 13 of Hannah Baker's tape recordings in one sitting, to find out all the reasons why she killed herself, and needing a breather to find the strength to start on the next chapter of her fatal saga.
Watching Hannah's story unfold and, eventually, end, we are reminded again and again that our actions and words have consequences, no matter how insignificant we think they are. Because you never know how it will affect other people, how it will hound them, how it will break them. As Tony, the guardian of Hannah’s tapes, says, "You never really know what's gonna hit how."
And boy, did Hannah take a lot of hits. From friendship fallouts to soul-crushing rumors to being stalked to late-night accidents to instances of rape, it felt like the world was out to get Hannah. We will never know for sure, but maybe, just maybe, if she knew she had someone on her side, maybe things could've turned out differently.
This is where we feel Clay's outrage—when did the world become so cruel? When did inflicting pain on other people become okay, even celebrated? Clay was also baffled as to why he was on Hannah's list, but even after Hannah said he wasn't, he still felt like he was one of the reasons why she took her life. Because he didn't notice what was happening, because he didn't try harder.
And that's the only thing we can do really—try harder. We don't know what's really going on in another person's mind. We don't know if our words and actions can change the course of someone's life. But we can try to be more mindful. Try to reach out. Try to be kinder. Just try.
We don't know what's really going on in another person's mind. We don't know if our words and actions can change the course of someone's life. But we can try to be more mindful. Try to reach out. Try to be kinder. Just try.
As Clay says, "It has to get better, the way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow."
If you need help or just want to talk to someone, you can get in touch with mental health facilities such as the UST Graduate School Psychotrauma Clinic, which offers free psychological services even to non-UST students.