I recently wrapped up the series premiere of 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix program based on Jay Asher’s book that I read back in eighth grade. The story, for those who don’t know, is about 17-year-old Clay Jenson who receives thirteen tapes his former classmate, Hannah Baker, recorded with the thirteen reasons behind her choice to end her life. While the show takes places during the awkward, petty, dramatic years of high school, it explores the dark issues like bullying, sexual assault, and suicide that prevail in young adults. It is definitely a heart-wrenching watch.
Read no further if you don’t want to hear about the final episode, when Hannah Baker’s actual death is finally shown.
The final episode hit like a brick wall. Previously, Hannah’s suicide had been alluded to or half-shown in Clay’s hallucinations. It has never been explicitly put before the viewer. That all changes when Clay confronts Mr. Porter and Hannah’s final hours are recounted.
I have seen a lot of films. I have seen a lot of blood. I have seen a lot of implied suicide scenes in television and movies. But this – this scene I could not watch in full. I had to avert my eyes or pace around to make it through.
This is hands-down the most potent, graphic suicide scene in all films or programs I have seen. You watch Hannah fill the bathtub, sink in fully clothed, and drag the razors along her forearms. You see each cut, each spurt of blood. You hear her ragged breathing as she slowly bleeds out into the water, some of it splashing out and staining the white tiles pink. There is no merciful cutaway to spare the viewer any of Hannah’s pain. It is a completely unglamorized view of suicide, in a world that sometimes forgets to acknowledge the reality of taking one’s life.
This scene, according to Jay Asher, was integral in driving home the true meaning of suicide in the hopes of changing young viewers’ perspectives on the sometimes romanticized act.