13 Life Lessons Learned From ’13 Reasons Why’

“You can hear rumours, but you can’t know them.”

In case you missed it, Netflix released “13 Reasons Why,” a series of thirteen episodes based on the book by Jay Asher. The Netflix series had long been awaited by those who read the book and was a quick addiction for everyone, even those who didn’t read the book. The story brings to life the harsh reality of suicide and reveals the potential harm words and actions can have on those around you, even if it wasn’t intended. “13 Reasons Why” goes above and beyond teaching one lesson about suicide; it teaches many lessons, and they can help improve the daily life of ourselves and others.

1. You can’t trust everyone.

Hannah Baker lost the trust she had for many of the new friends she made after moving to Liberty High School, and likewise, many of her friends made assumptions about her when most of the time, the assumptions weren’t true.

2. Words are powerful and can have a lasting impact on people.

Just about everyone in the show and book both received and spoke hurtful words. Many of the people didn’t think twice about what they said, and when they did think about it again, it was too late. Just because you may think they’re “just words” or you “didn’t mean it” or weren’t intending on them being hurtful, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Think about what you say before you say it.

3. Don’t be scared to love someone — you may end up being all they have.

Clay Jensen loved Hannah Baker but was too scared to ever confess his feelings and own up to them. Little did he know, his love was just about all Hannah needed to convince herself that she mattered.

4. No matter where you go, there will be people who suck.

I know this sounds harsh and pessimistic, but it’s a reality, especially in high school. Hannah’s family moved away from one town so she could start over, but moving towns didn’t do anything in the end. It’s impossible to move away from the sucky people, but you can do your best to avoid them, or even better, try and help them.

5. No matter where you go, there will be people who don’t suck.

Yes, this is the exact opposite of what I just said. But it’s true, as made clear by Clay Jensen. Hannah even said it herself, maybe she had been hanging out with the wrong people all along.

6. Think twice before you say or do something.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you be hurt if someone did or said what you were intending on saying? If the answer is even in the slightest bit yes, don’t do/say it, or find a better way to communicate or act it out. If some of the people who hurt Hannah and other characters in the story would have thought twice, things could have been much different.

7. Covering up problems does not make them go away.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but if anyone does anything to you that is illegal, or harmful, at all, seek out help. Don’t try to cover it up and keep it inside because it will eat you alive over time and will cause you to crash and burn. Talk to someone you can trust, and act on what happened.

8. “You can hear rumours, but you can’t know them.”

A quote from the book itself. Everyone is guilty of either spreading a rumour or fueling the rumor by not trying to stop it. If you ever hear anything about someone coming from someone else different than the person it’s about, don’t believe it. If it is relevant to your life at all and you need to know if it’s true, go to the person themselves to confirm it instead of relying on secondary sources. And please, do not encourage rumours to keep spreading by not stopping them or telling them to other people. Once again, how would it make you feel if it was about you?

9. Just because someone is acting fine, doesn’t mean that they are.

There are so many times in life where we feel the need to cover up what we are really feeling with a fake smile. Everyone is fighting an internal battle of their own, so be nice. Don’t make assumptions about the way others may feel, and always check in on the people you surround yourself with every once in a while.

10. Talking to people is important.

No matter how upset you may get and even if you feel like there is no one to talk to, there is always someone. There are hotlines that are there for you when you feel like there is no one else. Talking to someone else will always give you a different perspective and can turn your world around if the right things are said. Whether you need to talk to someone or you’re the person that people talk to, always remember to talk.

11. Actions have consequences. Always.

There are many, many times in the story where someone makes a horrible decision, and the consequences are detrimental. The consequences may not immediately come around, but they will in time. It’s all the more reason to think twice.

12. Violence doesn’t need to be treated lightly.

Everyone knows there is a multitude of emotional violence in the story, but there is also an unhealthy amount of physical violence, between friends, couples, and parents and their kids. Fighting or physically harming someone won’t make anything better, and it has its consequences. Fighting has a dual effect since it has the capacity to physically and emotionally harm people, whether it’s the victims, those who standby, or the family and friends of those involved. Don’t fight fire with fire.

13. Suicide is not the answer.

Suicide harms more people than just the person committing it. It has a strong and lasting effect on everyone around you, as made apparent by the series. Everyone is loved, everyone has a purpose, and everyone has a life waiting to be lived ahead of them. There are always other options, so do not be afraid to reach out to others for help. Things can and will get better over time, and we are all stronger than our past and the problems we’ve had. Even at our weakest moment, we are stronger than we think, and we can get through it.

If you haven’t read the book “13 Reasons Why” or watched the series, I highly encourage you to do both. It will change the way you think, act, and speak and will help you to become more aware of the consequences of everything you do and say. It implicitly teaches you the signs to look for when someone may be suicidal and will have a lasting impact on the way you live your life.

by Abby AsselinThe University of Alabama


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