Thirteen Reasons Why, is a show on Netflix, adapted from a book of the same name by Jay Asher.
This show isn’t for the weak. You know why? Because contrary to popular belief suicide isn’t a tool of the weak or ‘an act of cowardice’ as people fondly like to comment, while they casually turn their heads around to the unbearable pain one is feeling.
A couple of weeks ago, Arjun Bhardwaj, 24, jumped off the 19th floor of Taj Lands after recording a video ‘5 steps to commit suicide’. The steps were pretty simple – Drink enough to get high to get through it, write notes for your loved ones “because you don’t wanna leave just like that”, Eat, but that’s optional, and so on.
He said, “See you on the other side” moments before he jumped. He was casual about it. As if he were so sure that there wasn’t any way out of it. The pain of death seemed the least painful to him that moment.
And to Hannah too!
Arjun was mocked on social media (post his death), called names, ‘a privileged drug abuser’, ‘He had a room in Taj what could he be possibly going through?’, ‘Attention seeker’, ‘Loser’, ‘Coward’ – it didn’t stop here – some were happy that a coward like him isn’t breathing anymore. Because, of course, committing suicide is for the ‘weak’. Right.
If you’ve watched the 13th episode, you may recall, on her way to the post office Hannah bumps into someone from her poetry class who tells her they miss her at the poetry sessions and they even wrote a poem about how much they miss her – here, Hannah had a friend to help her – but by the time this help reached her she had made up her mind. An act of the weak, to be so strong willed? I think not.
You’ll say everyone goes through what she went through in her teen life, no shit, we have our own ways of bullying, fat shaming, slut shaming in India too. I’ve had a tough college life myself. I hailed from a modest school, I entered this big world where people watched what you wear, where you go, whom you kiss. I fucked up way too many times and I wasn’t spared. Although, I loved my years in college, a part of me couldn’t wait to get out and start afresh. Away from the tags, the name calling, the boys who were assholes to me, but I was slut shamed instead – and you know who shamed me more than others? My own mind! My morals and my principals, which were so different from how I was being perceived.
You say Hannah could’ve moved on? No she couldn’t. And she shouldn’t. She should fight! But she needs us to do that. She needs to speak to us and we need to trust her. She has the right to be heard without being objectified and judged. Or rather, had.
Just to think how many people I must’ve hurt. How many of them probably in some way or the other asked for my help and I shut them out, thinking they’ll ‘move on’. How many friends I have judged and called names.
But you know, to be extremely honest, I don’t know how much of that concern stems from ‘wanting to help’ and how much of it comes from ‘I hope I’m not on their tapes.’
And that’s what’s fucked up with us humans. We offer help but we keep the best advice for ourselves. And it’s never enough. Sure, Hannah was depressed, a series of things didn’t work out for her and she didn’t have it in her to pull through. But your explanation that she’s weak, is not enough. We, as a society, are a bunch of depressed people trying to pull one another down fearing that if we don’t then the world will be a better place to live in.
Clay sent out that picture of Tyler to get back at him for what he did to Hannah and how’d it end? A bully is afraid of being bullied too. A bully also, as they call it ‘has a weak heart.’
I’m sure Arjun didn’t jump off Taj to make a fashion statement. To show other people wanting to end it, that, this is how you go in style! Insensitive much? Go see the ton of haters on social media shaming him for being depressed. I don’t know what happened to Arjun, why he didn’t wish to live but he didn’t have help, he couldn’t find it at the right time. Sure, he did drugs but these are means to pull through for longer, the issue is deeper. We’d know if we’d ask, instead of judging from afar.
Hannah went to the Counsellor, she went to her parents, she went to Clay – what’d she get in return? I know, I’m not blaming these people for not identifying her pain. We’re all in pain, we’re all going through shit. Her parents had to fight business competition. Clay’s massive ego blinded him to see her sadness and the counsellor was a judgemental male who thought he’d seen enough teens have consensual sex and call it assault, so the best thing to do was to move on. Hannah was bent and broke, one episode at a time.
Yes, she was touchy and sensitive and she cared a bit too much. So what?
Instead of asking the likes of Hannah to move on, instead of shaming an unhappy boy, why don’t we start being good to others instead? Why can’t we be kind?
I took home a great lesson from ‘A death in the Gunj’ when I watched it recently. Intellectuals stood outside nodding their genius heads, congratulating Konkana Sen Sharma on being a wonderful story teller. Some more nodding. Discussing how great the film is (which it is) and ‘moving on.’
The film talks about depression, and the act of kindness, that we all unanimously lack. WE do. I do. I lost a friend at 21, he was my classmate. He didn’t end his life, he incurred a fatal illness when we were 19. I wasn’t there for him. Maybe in the beginning, for a while. But I wasn’t there for him. I meet his mother now, I justify it to myself that I was going through a ton of my own shit, I was just 19 – scared and confused. And I ‘move on.’ But I hate that I do. When my friend was breathing his last, his mother tells me, he looked at her with a certainty that he won’t wake up and he seemed content, he seemed happy about the last few breaths he was taking.
He was going to a better world. I believe him.
A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with mild clinical depression. I wasn’t suicidal, because I am weak. I’ve been asked questions like ‘Are you depressed, did you break up? It’ll go away in a few months.’ I stopped telling others after this incident. I didn’t share it with my family, friends, colleagues. I knew no one would understand. Because I look ‘normal’. We all do. And we shouldn’t. Because we’re not!
A number of things hit you hard and you just can’t bear it any longer.
Break up was a heavy player in my life, but when I look back it started many years ago. Every male gaze, every stare, every comment, every failed attempt, every snide remark on being fat, every rejection, every replacement – it all built and built and added to a pile on my shoulders that was way too heavy to carry.
I applaud the ones who bounce back, but some don’t. I couldn’t. And I feel no shame in saying I couldn’t. Do I deserve to die then? Am I asking for it? I think not!
I think it’s time to blame others. It’s time to say sorry for your actions. Just how Clay said, ‘we could’ve saved Hannah.’
I thankfully found support within my family and things got much better. It’s a great feeling to bounce back, something Arjun couldn’t experience.
So here’s this small thing I wanna do (small because I don’t know how many people would read this), if you want to talk, just random stuff, you wanna break away from your routine, make a friend. Here’s my email id – firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m here to listen and share. No judgements.
I want to do my thing to make this world a better place to live in.