Beth Dubber/Netflix

'13 Reasons Why' Explores Hannah's Tragic Decision

by Zakiya Jamal

On Netflix's latest series 13 Reason Why, the story follows high school student Clay Jensen and his former classmate, Hannah Baker, who recently committed suicide. It's not surprising then that people want to know why did Hannah kill herself on 13 Reasons Why? Because that's what happens in the wake of something terrible: you want to understand how this came about.

When the show began, Hannah had already died and her classmates were coming to terms with her death in very different ways. There was a shrine on her locker that people took pictures in front of to post on social media with the hashtag #NeverForget, for example. Then there were those who weren't really dealing with it at all, like Clay. That is until he received a box that contained cassette tapes of Hannah explaining why she ended her life and pinpointing the people who contributed to her decision.

Each side of each tape is designated to a specific person, describing how their actions had impacted her life. From a rumor that spread about Hannah's promiscuity to the bystanders who did nothing to defend her, these all played a part in what happened. And while it appears Hannah's reasons are clearly stated, suicide is never simple. In fact, it can be quite complicated.

For Hannah, it appears depression played a major role. She became more and more depressed over time because of the events that transpired once she moved to her new town. And, of course, there's always the state of her mental health to consider. You may think you know what's going on in someone else's life, but as Hannah's story proves, things aren't always as black and white as they seem. The unfortunate fact is one may never truly know for sure all the factors that led to Hannah ending her life, but with these tapes at least she's allowed to explain herself the best she can and finally be given a chance to be heard.

The show jumps between the present, in which Clay listens to Hannah's tapes while visiting the places she mentioned, and to the past so viewers can see for themselves the actual events that transpired. In this way, viewers see the stark contrast between how Hannah's classmates reacted to her death to how they treated her while she was alive. Unfortunately, the difference is very telling.

Although the show, which is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jay Asher, is obviously fictional, the subject matter is not. Teen suicide is unfortunately very real and happens much too often. In fact, suicide rates are climbing in the U.S., especially among adolescent girls. 13 Reasons Why does a good job of handling such an important topic with care, and by letting Hannah tell her own story, it's a new look at suicide that doesn't often occur in scripted television.

You can watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix beginning on Friday, March 31 on Netflix.