I’m halfway through the thirteenth episode of 13 Reasons Why. You know, the new Netflix Original Series that has taken America by storm. It’s about a girl named Hannah, who is subjected to bullying, harassment, and rape, before she ultimately kills herself. It’s helped to shed a light on suicide — a light that has always been dimmed by society because it’s too bright, or too noticeable. People don’t like to talk about suicide. Today I am.
She slits her writs in her family’s bathtub. It’s not really a spoiler alert — anyone who made it five minutes into the first episode would know this. She bleeds to death in a warm tub, the water still running, tears streaming down her face.
And Episode Thirteen gives you a serious visual of this.
A serious visual of suicide that hasn’t really been presented to mainstream media ever before.
Someone even went to the liberty to put it on YouTube for those of you that don’t have Netflix. Even if you don’t watch the show or take no interest in it, I’d highly suggest you watch this four minute clip.
I’ll warn you that it’s very graphic.
And at first I thought that’s why I started getting nauseous. But that’s not the reason why.
You see, I — along with many people watching this show — closely identify with the character of Hannah Baker. We’ve been in such a deep depression before that we’ve lost all of our drive, all care for anything that is going on around us. Death suddenly becomes a viable answer.
The last time I contemplated suicide was January 1st, 2016.
I was lying in bed, crying silently, staring up into the pink ceiling of my high school bedroom. I was thinking of my entire life, what had happened, what people had done to me, what I had done to others. I remember lying there, unable to sleep, just crying, sinking into my sheets, unable to relax, unable to think happy thoughts.
And then I closed my eyes and imagined myself filling my bathtub with warm water. I would light some candles and incense. I would slowly climb into my narrow little, shallow tub, using whatever sharp object I had — be it razor blade, knife, whatever — and cut up my arms, watching my wrists split open as my warm blood spilled out of them.
And in my bed that night, I imagined myself bleeding out, the water quickly turning red, my anxiety, worries, and life slipping away with the blood from my body. I fell asleep and slept peacefully.
I’ve never completely left that image behind. It was calming. It was like a coping mechanism for me. Imagining myself dying helped me sleep better at night.
So when I watched this fictional character, who I was just introduced to three days ago, standing in front of a mirror, eyes void of hope and happiness, before stepping into her bathtub and penetrating her wrists with her razor blade, I realized that I was imagining myself. I was seeing myself on January 1st, 2016.
As I watched this, my stomach got queasy and my head got heavy, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen. My whole body starting shaking and I felt myself slowly losing consciousness as I watched her die before my eyes.
I was able to pause it, exit the window, and lay my head down before it got any worse.
But I continued to shake, gagging, heavily breathing. I couldn’t stop. And then I knew I had to write. I had to write about this.
Because this isn’t just some TV show. Fortunately I was able to exit out of it, I was able to turn it off and ignore it, but that’s not the case for the people who actually do take their own lives. This isn’t the case for the people who make the most heartbreaking decision of their life. Hannah Baker, a fictional character, bled to death in her bathtub at 17 years old.
But I wanted that at 18.
And I know how it feels. I know how it feels to be so lost, to be so alone, that you just want the freeing release of death — of eternal darkness. I realize now that I don’t speak up enough about it publicly.
If anything, 13 Reasons Why is here to spark conversation. Like any other TV show, it’s meant to entertain, but it needs to start a conversation for better mental health programs in schools, for more proactive parents, peers, and family members, for erasing the stigma that has branded suicide as cowardly and weak, or selfish.
13 Reasons Why gives a pretty damn good visual of what it’s like to become suicidal. Of what it’s like to spiral down a never-ending slide that you can’t seem to get off of. It plays so well into the empathy of those that may not have understood until now, and it acts as a reminder to those of us who have been there of what it’s like and how it feels, and how important it is that we don’t just sit back and exit out of our Internet browser.
Photo Courtesy of: Netflix