I am sure everyone has heard about Netflix's must see series 13 Reasons Why by now, it has been all over social media for weeks. I was pretty slow to watch it as I am not a big TV watcher and I also did not really want to watch a show about suicide. Then whilst checking my teenage daughters mobile I noticed on her Instagram account she had a link to an anonymous messaging app, where other people she knows can leave anonymous feedback about her, as did all of her friend's profiles. The first few messages were fine and just said things like "great friend, pretty, always there for me", just standard teenage girl messages to one another. Then I seen messages like "Do a Hannah Baker, go kill yourself."
As a parent, it is not very nice seeing people send your child messages telling them to kill themselves. So I asked her about them and she was not bothered about the messages and just said it was someone being pathetic and it was about hit TV show 13 Reasons Why, which everyone had been watching. Now I Know she had been watching this show and she had mentioned it to me saying it was tapes about a dead girl and had the boy from Goosebumps in it, I naively thought nothing of it and thought it was just a teen show she was watching. I was only 18 when I had my eldest and I suppose I could be classed as a 'younger mam' and should be aware of what teenagers are into these days, but I am totally clueless if truth be told. So after seeing that message, I decided it was about time I watched the show for myself to see what it was all about.
13 Reasons why is about a teenage high school student called Hannah Baker and she has committed suicide, she has left 13 tapes about why she killed herself and the people who have made her do it. We see what the last few months of Hannah's life were like through the eyes of her love interest Clay Jenson, as he discovers the secrets on the tapes.
I will be honest and say the first few episodes I was wondering why I was bothering to watch this show, it very teen based and I did not warm to Hannah at all. I kept watching though and by episode four or five I was hooked and stayed up late binge watching the rest of the episodes over two nights. There was twists and turns that I never expected and I was dying to see why the lovely Clay who clearly adored her was on the tapes (you have to watch almost to the end to find out why).
I found some of the scenes really difficult to watch as there was rape scenes, violence and of course the suicide scene. I felt a bit uncomfortable knowing that my 14-year-old had watched such a graphic show, but I was probably watching shows I shouldn't have at her age too. The suicide scene really got to me though as it was so graphic, you see her cutting her wrists and how she does it and how she dies and it was just so shocking. As silly as it may sound that scene stayed with me for days after watching it. Having a daughter a similar age to Hannah and seeing her mum find her and her reaction was heartbreaking and every parent's worst nightmare.
So as a parent to a teenage daughter what do I think of 13 Reasons why?
I am sort of on the fence with this one, in some ways I think that the show is good for showing that little things you do to someone at high school can have lasting impacts and you don't know what that person is going through. Although after hearing people tell my daughter "Do a Hannah Baker - go Kill yourself" obviously means some teens don't think like this. I think showing the effects on Hannah's family and friends after her suicide and how horrible suicide can be also might make teen's think more before taking their own lives.
However, on the other hand, I worry that it was so graphic it might show teen's how to kill themselves, I wouldn't have known how to slit my wrists properly at that age and I worry someone will watch the show and copy what Hannah did. Also, the reason why I started watching after seeing some boy message my daughter telling her to "Do a Hannah Baker", I fear some teens will use it as ammunition on other kids and what if they say it to a teen who is already thinking of suicide?
I do think that every parent of teens should watch this show, it certainly opened my eyes more and after watching it I sat down with my daughter and talked about the show with her (much to her annoyance). Her words were Hannah was silly to kill herself as in a year she would have left school and had a whole new amazing life ahead of her. I know I am lucky that my daughter has things easy at school, while she has fallen out with friends and dislikes some lessons (which teen doesn't?) she has never been bullied or hated school so much that she doesn't want to go in. After watching the show I think I will be more aware of warning signs if everything is not ok with her though.
After watching the show myself would I now let my teen watch the show? Yes, I would as I know she is level headed enough to understand the show and realise that you don't always know what someone else is going through. It might make teens understand that some of their peers are struggling and they need to think before they say or do something. Most importantly it might make teens realise that mental health problems can affect anyone and being kind could save someone from ending their own life and realise that all is not lost.
Have you watched 13 Reasons Why yet? If so what did you think of it?