Warning: the following article contains spoilers. For Part 1 of this article, read May’s issue of Notes from the Orchard.
It was a relief to finally finish the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. In the final three episodes the darkness continues to deepen leading up to Hannah’s suicide in the last episode. There are a few major events that contribute to her final decision to commit suicide.
- She can’t get the flashes of her bad sexual experiences out of her head for a “good” experience with Clay.
- She loses the money she was supposed to deposit in the bank for her parent’s pharmacy.
- She goes to a party and is raped by the same guy that she witnessed rape her friend Jessica in episode 9.
- She meets with the school counselor and doesn’t get the responses she wanted.
Hannah desperately desires to be loved. We all do. We can all identify with Hannah in that desire. Tim Keller says it well in his book The Meaning of Marriage:
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Hannah wants this real love. Not only in a romantic sense with Clay, but also in a friendship love by Jessica or Alex. We have all been designed as relational beings, and she is missing a core of who she is. She does not have the freedom from fear that Keller talks about. She does not know the unending love we have from our Father, the Love that never wavers because of what we’ve done. As Christians, we are fully known in our brokenness. We experience freedom because of the perfect sacrifice in Christ and are clothed in his righteousness, not our own. Hannah has isolated herself, and her past experiences have closed her off. Justin betrayed her by sending a sexually explicit picture of her around the school. Courtney left her to take the hit after the picture of them kissing circulated around the school because Courtney didn’t want anyone to know she was a lesbian.
The afternoon before Hannah’s suicide she meets with the school counselor. He is the 13th reason she gives of why she kills herself. She goes into his office with the intention to record their entire meeting. It’s as though she’s testing him, wanting him to fail. Based on their conversation, I think there were things he could have done differently, but I don’t think he can be blamed for her suicide. He could have pointed her to someone to talk to when he learned that she was raped, but there was no way for him to know the extent of her internal struggles. As an audience we know what has been happening in her life, but Hannah did not give him enough information for him to know she was to the point of suicide.
Towards the end of the series, Hannah’s parents open a trial to look into their daughter’s suicide. Students are brought in for depositions. The students on the tapes become increasingly more nervous about the tapes coming out and their involvement being made known. One student named Alex wants them to turn in the tapes, but the others refuse. Alex is overcome by the guilt of the situation, and in the end shoots himself in the head. We learn that he is in critical condition at the hospital. Is this the reaction that Hannah wanted? Another attempted suicide? What was she hoping would happen when she recorded the tapes? Similar to Clay’s reaction to get revenge on Tyler (more details in Part 1), Hannah is only continuing the cycle causing more pain and suffering on others in her “revenge suicide.”
Suicide is never the answer. You can always get help. Be honest about your struggles to a trusted parent or friend. Parents, ask your teens, “What is school like for you?” “What are some lies you can pick out from 13 Reasons?” “What is the truth of these issues based on Scripture?”