(Editor's note: This article contains spoilers from the entire season of 13 Reasons Why.)
Netflix's new binge-worthy series, 13 Reasons Why, tackles some very serious issues that unfortunately plague many adolescents. The Selena Gomez-produced series, which is based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher, chronicles the aftermath of Hannah Baker's suicide, which is explored via 13 tapes she recorded before her death. These tapes, as you can probably guess, explain the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life.
13 Reasons Why has earned rave reviews, and the series deserves the praise for its often unfiltered exploration of teen suicide and bullying — two pervasive issues within youth communities. And on top of being an emotional, thought-provoking and, also, entertaining series, 13 Reasons Why serves as a cautionary tale, one shines a light on the signs that a young adult may be struggling.
And while the series primarily focuses on Hannah's high school struggles, 13 Reasons Why ends with another attempted suicide and the possibility of a different horrific event: a school shooting. 13 Reasons Why makes it easy to dislike most of the subjects on Hannah's tapes, but the series also shows the grief and guilt that some go through when their roles are revealed.
Other than Clay Jensen, the series' protagonist (and reason 11), it was Alex Standall (reason four) who was hit hardest by Hannah's death and the revelation that he played a part in it. While most of the students who were given the tapes lashed out at Hannah for craving attention or lying, Alex believes most of what Hannah says on her tapes, and the realization that he contributed to the decision to take her own life ultimately takes its toll.
The penultimate episode ends with an ambulance responding to an unknown gunshot wound. The audience is led to believe that perhaps Justin or Tyler — each of whom procured a gun — either shot themselves or someone else. We do not find out until the end of the final episode that it was in fact Alex who apparently attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. And the season — perhaps the series — ends with his fate ultimately unresolved.
Throughout the season, Alex, much like Hannah, showed signs of depression and suicidal tendencies. And, again, like Hannah, the signs were missed. The school counselor, Alex's peers and his family missed an opportunity to save him. In this regard, 13 Reasons Why does act as a cautionary tale, and hopefully leads to some of these signs being more recognized in the real world.
For this reason, it is important that the series ends with Clay reaching out to Skye, yet another student at Liberty High who is displaying suicidal behavior. Now, just maybe, her life can be saved.
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