So, I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the latest Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, but if you haven’t here’s the basic idea: a girl in high school kills herself and records cassette tapes explaining how different people in her life played a part in her decision. Each person named in the tapes is supposed to listen and pass them on. If they don’t, the tapes will go public and potentially ruin the lives of the people involved.
While my own kids are not close to high school age, my stepson is getting to those tween years, and I teach K-8, so I figured this was an important series to watch to see what my students are watching. My goal is to write a short blog post sorting through my thoughts after watching each episode. I’d like to do one a week, but with kids and life it might be hard…I’ll do my best though.
Here were my initial thoughts on the first episode:

1. It makes me terrified for my kids to be in high school.
High school is a weird time in general. You’re discovering who you are, have more independence, but you don’t know what to do with it.

2. Social media/technology is a blessing and a curse
That picture of Hannah got texted to dozens of people within seconds. I know this happens, but seriously? I taught high school. Kids aren’t allowed to have phones in class – I know it doesn’t stop them, and I know you pick your battles, but if 15 phones were going off in my classroom I’d do something about it.

3. Where are these kids’ parents?
I hope they flesh out these characters because if Clay was my son he wouldn’t be allowed to be riding his bike all around town at night. And if he came home with a huge cut on his forehead, there’s no way I’d let him go back out.

4. Suicide is selfish
I may get some heat for this, but hear me out. I’m not saying mental health issues don’t exist. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I know how debilitating it can feel to think you don’t have control or that you can’t get out of a certain situation. But you HAVE to get help. You have to know that nothing (except death) lasts forever, and that life does and will get better. Suicide is not a solution for your problems.

5. I’m not sure I like the main character
I’ll hold out judgement on this until I’m done with the entire series, but I don’t think I’m going to care much about Hannah and her ‘reasons’. Right now I think she’s ruining other people’s lives to make herself feel better except that she’s not around to see the repercussions of her actions-positive or negative.

6. I hope this series doesn’t glorify suicide
Unfortunately, I have known 2 students who killed themselves during the time I’ve been teaching. You have to walk a fine line between remembering the person who died and glorifying them. Because the last thing you want to happen is copycat behavior.

I’m intrigued enough to keep watching, but I’m hopeful that some of my concerns are addressed in the remaining episodes. Stay tuned for episode 2 next week.