I think what 13 Reasons Why fails to depict is that suicide is ugly. It’s not two faced, vengeful or pathetic. It’s such a shame how television embodies role models from people who choose to end their lives and cast vicious sorrow and repent over everyone they used to know, for the rest of their existence. The show is unrealistic at best.
I used to study cognitive research and do a lot of shifts in psychiatric units, and I can tell suicide is nothing like you see it pictured on TV.
In the end, what suicide leaves behind is a pile of flesh and bone staggering your eyeballs with the realisation of how fragile life is.
The danger with this type of depiction is the romanticism that comes along with it. Shows like ’13 Reasons Why’ make it look acceptable. They make it look cool. They make it look like you could actually die and see what’s going to happen with the rest of people in your life afterwards, as if you could ghostly watch everything from afar, and finally achieve serenity.
We need to reassess the way we talk about suicide in the media.
We need to stop beautifying and embellishing suicide as a courageous, tremendous, super heroic act.
We need to look at the people in our lives and try to get to know them better, even when we think we’ve got them all figured out. Nothing prepares you for death, and there is nothing reassuring in the way we think we can plan it.
The romance associated with suicide is something you can see in people’s comments on social media too. You can see entire communities posting about self harm, anorexia nervosa, cutting, or juggling with the idea of being set free from this cold, harsh world.
The most beautiful suicide
Evelyn McHale was an American bookkeeper who remained popular in history as the woman who committed suicide by jumping from the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building on May 1, 1947. This powerful photo taken by Robert C. Wiles was published as a full-page image in the 12 May, 1947 issue of Life Magazine. It ran with the caption: “At the bottom of the Empire State Building the body of Evelyn McHale reposes calmly in grotesque bier, her falling body punched into the top of a car“.
McHale’s broken hearted gesture was also titled “The most beautiful suicide” and ran a controversy of multiple other stories leveraged on the basis of her impetuous act.
I remember this one time a guy I used to know posted the photograph of McHale splattered over the car she bent as she heavily fell. The infamous image portrays a young woman’s corpse resting in ethereal peace (and most probably, pieces). My friend told me he thinks that’s romantic. That girls love these pictures. That it’s so beautiful. That it will get him lots of Likes and flirty conversation with women.
People’s fascination with death is as strong as their fascination with youth, love and money. Take youth and money from the equation and all you get is love and death. Convenient, isn’t it?