Online bullying, finding out your sexuality, betrayal from friends, suicide, depression, and slut-shaming are some of the issues that were portrayed in the novel turned Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. These are also issues that many high school across America face as well, which is why the novel 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher should be introduced in high school English curriculums.
I’m not saying throw Dickens and To Kill a Mockingbird out the window, as those books are classics. But adding this book along side them offers teens a chance to talk about suicide and bullying. According to Teen Suicide Statistics, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults, and is 100 percent preventable — if you recognize the signs. This book allows exactly that.
By introducing it in the classrooms, it opens up a forum to talk about these issues as it pertains to them. Many can relate to what Hannah Baker went through. According to Bullying Statistics, 30 percent of teens are bullied in the U.S. And, teens don’t escape that bullying once they leave school for the day. Thanks to social media, it’s easy for a kid to be bullied 24/7, from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep. Therefore, now more than ever, it’s important to recognize the signs and become aware of the effects of bullying, as suicide is one.
It also helps them become aware of the signs of suicide. This awareness can then help kids notice the signs if they notice a classmate struggling with them, which will in turn help them intervene. Sure, they can Google them. However, I think we should put them in the curriculum for kids to really hammer it in. This message is a bit too important not to.
Hannah Baker was the scapegoat among her classmates. She was betrayed by someone that she thought was her friend and by a guy that she thought she loved. She even reached out to someone, who told her to suck it up.
While Hannah is a fictional character, there are many others who deal with what Hannah did. Bullying is real. Slut shaming is real. And, supposed jokes can hurt. By witnessing what can happen by those words that one thought was a joke can prevent something as tragic as what happened to Hannah.
Integrating this book into the modern high school curriculum may not be the answer to ending teen suicide. With that being said, it does allow it to be brought to the table in a way that teens can relate to it. It gets them talking. And, that is a start.