This is not a numbered list.
My own experience with suicide is not something I’d like to discuss here, so I won’t. Just suffice it to say that the topic and nature of suicide is something I know more intimately than I would have ever liked. For some of us, suicide is not an interesting storyline, something you hear about and silently thank your lucky starts that it’s far removed from you. I don’t have that luxury.
Let’s start with the very simple and obvious Reason Number One: this shit sensationalizes and even in some parts romanticizes suicide, without making any effort to address the deep (DEEP, DEEP, DEEP) mental illness that creates it. Of course, this is to be expected with anything that targets teens and young adults, especially considering how significant and totally new everything feels to a teenager. But the level to which this fucking book and now Netflix show ignore the clinical discussion is astounding.
Consider even the tapes, the fact that this girl went to the trouble of producing all these tapes while she plans her suicide, just so that the people left behind would have to contend with what she leaves for them. This is extremely dangerous because it suggests that suicide is a suitable way of getting back at people who have wronged you, while at the same time reinforcing the popular belief that people who commit suicide are selfish and vindictive, looking to hurt the people in their lives with a final “fuck you” to the world. Do you realize how problematic this is? How wrong?
Think about the fact that Hannah seems to experience a crazy number of “bad things” happening to her. It helps the story, sure, but consider what this means for people who suffer from a debilitating depression, even though their lives look to be fine on the surface. Think about a person who may have a great life, a great family, supportive friends, not a bad thing ever happens to them, and yet they are depressed. Are we suggesting that someone like that can’t have a mental illness? Like they somehow don’t have a right to be depressed? To be suicidal?
Suicide is not a mystery to be solved, it’s a tragic ending of a life that probably struggled against itself for far too long. It is not a game of “whodunnit.” It is not fodder for opinion by those who clearly do not have the capacity to understand what happens to a person when, despite everything telling them they should be alive, can’t imagine facing another day. Suicide is not a manipulation tool. When someone is defeated to this level, and they truly can’t bear the burden of living any longer, they are not doing it because they want to teach someone else a lesson. It is not a diary entry from beyond the grave. Suicide is not a fucking tantrum.