In the weeks following the release of '13 Reasons Why' onto Netflix, and the thousands of comments it has been given, there has been a lot of backlash to the show and the way it portrays mental health and supposedly glorifies the concept of suicide and the decisions that people everywhere make to follow through with it. 

As a college student suffering from clinically diagnosed depression and social anxiety, I watched this show not only because I read the book when I was younger, but also to see how a realistic portrayal of suicide and mental health struggles would affect me. And I was right in thinking that it would affect me, but not in the ways that the Internet seems to be claiming. 

Does '13 Reasons Why' glorify suicide?

In the past three weeks, I've read and seen a lot of articles titled "Why I don't like 13 Reasons Why as a Survivor of Suicide" or "How 13 Reasons Why Glorifies Suicide and Mental Illness". I can't speak for every individual's opinions and how they were affected by the show, but in my opinion, these statements are just plain wrong.

I loved watching '13 Reasons Why'. It wasn't easy to watch, because on a lot of levels, I related to Hannah. I relate to the feeling of complete solitude, to feeling like you're the problem to the boy who cares enough about you to want to help you, to the appropriation of your body in a way that boys think is a compliment, but really just makes you more self conscious.

Everyone has a bit of Hannah in them

I relate to not wanting to burden anyone, to sometimes being terrified to go to class, and to wanting to curl up in a ball and just hide. I relate to wanting to not care about the things that are hurting you, but somehow being completely unable to stop thinking about them. In a way, I think everyone experiences a bit of Hannah within them at some point in their life.

I don't disagree with the fact that portraying mental illness in a TV show in such a dramatic way can trigger a lot of feelings in those who experience it. I don't disagree with the fact that the dramatization of it can make depression seem less 'real'. And I don't disagree that the way Hannah's suicide was portrayed was graphic, heart-wrenching, and absolutely made me cry.

But I do disagree that this show 'glorifies' suicide and depression. When Selena Gomez went to Jay Asher to produce this show, she did it because she wanted to share her own struggles with mental health. That's not something any survivor would do if they didn't feel as though this show would be giving a real look into the daily struggles of someone living with depression and suicidal thoughts.

'13 Reasons Why' glorifies nothing, it only shows the reality

'13 Reasons Why' does not glorify it, it does not rationalize it. Instead of looking at each of the tapes as a 'blame game', the viewer should see them each as an example of what actions hurt people in a deep way, when they may not have understood it before. Instead of seeing Hannah blame each individual for her death, see it as an elongated version of a suicide note. 

Because the fact is, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the second in persons between the ages of 10 and 34. And yet, no one talks about it. As a society, we are still deciding where suicide fits into mental health, and where mental health fits in the conversation of health in general. 

So I don't see 13 Reasons Why as glorifying anything. I see it as a power tool, a instigator to a conversation that we, as a society, should be having. I see it as something that everyone should be aware of, and honestly, a show that everyone should watch. Maybe you'll realize what you're doing to others will have a greater impact than you thought, or get the help you need.

You are NOT alone

And if there's a message to come out of this show, it is that you are not alone, and that there is always someone who cares and someone who wants to help you. You just may not be able to see them clearly. If you are ever in crisis, or feel alone, talk to someone. Help is never far away.