How '13 Reasons Why' Gave Me Closure
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
I was lying in my bed, surrounded by the night, with only a lit cell phone screen visible. A typical binge watching; a modern-day commonality. I called my loving boyfriend in a flood of tears and apologies for my past actions. I never truly accepted the effects of my attempt that still lingered in the air.
It was June 21, 2016 when I attempted suicide. Leading to an overdose, a seizure and the ultimate realization I actually did not want to die. My reasons leading up to this event were years in the making. Long story short, I lived and I regretted the attempt ever since.
But that night I spoke of earlier was while watching the infamous “13 Reasons Why.” I had watched the last episode of the first season and broke into tears. Seeing Hannah Baker’s death, and her family’s reaction when walking into her, made me think back to that June morning: the screaming, my parents and older brother rushing to my room, how it seemed the ambulance wasn’t hurrying fast enough to my house, the emergency room and then the aftermath of it all. It wasn’t worth it. Jay Asher’s novel turned Netflix series helped me find closure almost a year after my own attempt.
Still though, I can never take back my actions. Shortly after I lost a friendship, with both of us held by our own guilt. (She had been the last person I spoke to. And I’ll always forever be sorry towards her.)
It was a giant wake up call for me. I remember I spent the day after sleeping and crying, then crying and sleeping until I went to a mental institution, filled with so many mixed emotions about what I had just done. It’s not an easy thing for the person who survives their own suicide. There’s that “why?” phase that lasts a long time, still does every so often. All I knew was — I’m alive.
Now that it’s been months since the show’s released, why do I think people should watch it? Simple, because it is important. Yes, it’s very controversial. People are not used to actually seeing such a graphic and raw interpretation.
In all my 12 years of school, I myself was a victim of bullying. Instantly throughout the show then I connected to Hannah, Tyler and Skye as well. Being the half Hispanic person I am in a majority white school, I was seen as different. It wasn’t until high school that I accepted it’s link to racism. Then came the person I am, my quiet artistic self. I wasn’t like the others. It was a small school and I didn’t fit in with the sporty or cool kids. I was, overall, the basket case kid in “The Breakfast Club.”
Bullying nowadays isn’t public, it’s an insidious silent attack. Snide comments, whispers, quiet ostracization and cyberbullying. All Hannah Baker dealt with. All I did. I was cyberbullied by two girls I thought as close friends, who turned most of my class against me and told people about my self-harm. Leading me to develop trust issues, and ultimately building my pit of loneliness. Sound familiar?
Now the heavy-hitter; rape. More importantly rape culture in America. This hit me in two ways. See, Hannah begins with moving to a new school, soon after is sexually harassed through a picture posted on social media; leading to taunts, groping and being labeled as “easy.“ I have been sexually harassed myself since the first grade by boys, and it’s only gotten worse. And it doesn’t stop, since it’s practically deemed OK by society. Remember the phrase: “boys will be boys.” I’m sure you do.
From music to hyper-sexualization in the media, this mistreatment is presented. Good thing not every guy is this way.
Secondly, I was affected due to one of my aunts being raped in the past by a close family friend. Most cases of rape people first ask, “What was she wearing?” “Did you not know, or say no?” “Maybe you misunderstood?” Dismissing what happened, an invasion on one’s own body. In 2012, Huffington Post estimated that every year 300,000 women are raped. And that 54 percent aren’t even reported due to shame and guilt. The rate of men being raped per year is 3 percent, but due to them being less likely to report such, it’s a lot higher most likely. About 13 percent of rape victims will attempt suicide. Again I ask, does that sound familiar?
“13 Reasons Why” also expresses how schools deal with bullying. In the show, Hannah’s school reportedly denied she was ever bullied. Their reason? They didn’t want to get sued, even her own counselor hid the file of her last meeting. There was also the case where a teacher disregarded a student’s anonymous plea for help (Hannah’s). I have dealt with something similar. Due to depression I would cry in the middle of class and run to the bathroom to call my mom to take me out of school. Not a single teacher would ask me what was wrong. Within just the last two years of high school, we had several suicides occur. All we had was a moment of silence, and they told us to go on with our day.
So parents, please watch this with your children. Educate them. I know it’s heavy, but I say this as a victim, as a survivor. Think of those struggling with damaged lives, or ended ones. Still though, the battle isn’t over for me on my mental illness recovery road. And the same is true for many others. But I got to live beyond Hannah’s story. I’m alive. And I still have tons of empty cassettes to fill or journal pages in my book.
This piece originally appeared on Psyche.
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Lead image via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page