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Interview: “I do understand Hannah”

In order to include more perspectives on the difficult debate about the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, and its relationship to self-harm and suicide, we have interviewed C - a young woman who has previously done self-harm and attempted suicide - about the series’ potential risks and role to young people and self-harm. Warning: this post contains content dealing with self-harm, suicide, and pictures of such.

C is completing her third year of a secondary education and plans to study psychology afterwards. C has previously attempted to commit suicide on several occasions and has suffered severely from self-harm on and off. This interview is a continuation of “Suicide works!

How would you describe your previous relationship to suicide?

I thought about it a lot – and I tried it, too. I tried several of times. Primarily by using pills. -They were easy to get a hold of… and I didn’t have the balls to do what, for example, Hannah does. I had a little book where I wrote…ways to do it. Sort of getting it out – and because I thought about it.

Does a show like 13 Reasons Why say something about suicide that teenage girls wouldn’t know beforehand?

No. I don’t think so. There wasn’t anything… When I saw the final scene where Hannah commits suicide, there wasn’t anything I didn’t know before. It depends on who you are. There are people who are clearly more informed about suicide than others. Some people have this glossy picture of somebody having a big jar of pills, and then that’s that. You go to bed and don’t wake up. It’s just not like that. The final scene shows that… It’s pretty violent. It’s uncomfortable.. It’s not pleasant to commit suicide.

During the series’ final episode, you see Hannah commit suicide, and next being found by her parents.

In which light does the series represents suicide?

The way Hannah tells her story, suicide seems like a good thing – until the last episode [Where you see Hannah commit suicide]. Where you really see her pain. – She’s not just being bullied, she’s raped and… Being in a situation like that, you can understand why she’d want out. I do understand Hannah. So, in that sense, the suicide is represented in a light of now she can finally find peace from all of that.

But it sounds like a good thing?

Well, her mom finds her afterwards – and it’s not just a short cut. You get it ALL. It shows the grim side of it. I think, it’s good for young people to see what happens to those left behind. When you’re enveloped in it, then you’re egotistical somehow. But you don’t see that, you don’t know. It’s only afterwards you’re aware. So having the long scene with her parents, I think that’s scary to many people. The fact that your parents will find you – I think that may help stop someone. I hope it can help stop someone.

“The tapes give her the last say.”

What do you think the show does to a young person watching, is it good television, or is it something more?

Well, for some people it’s just good television. But for those who’re struggling with something, those who’ve got some sort of problems… I could relate. 100 %. It was nice feeling that this problem – if they’ve made a series out of it – it must mean there are others who deal with the same problem as me. – Even though the suicide scene with Hannah could be a trigger. It was nice feeling normal relative to these issues.

Does that mean that suicide may become a normal resort for common teenage problems?

I certainly hope not. No, I think the final scene is really daunting. It was for me. I was crying afterwards… An entire day. Because, it could’ve been me – and it could’ve been my parents.

Should young people at the start of their teens see the series?

I think they should be allowed but you should be aware of them. Because I definitely think that someone could be inspired from the show. The suicide can inspire because… Up to that point, it’s not the self-harm, there’s no… that she cuts herself is apparent, or that she burns herself or some of all the other “small” defeats. I think parents may allow their children to watch the series, also because they gain insight into what suicide is. I didn’t know. I knew it would put an end to life but… I didn’t know it would mean that my parents would find me like that… That it would be so painful. I had glossy picture in my mind.

“This is how it happens. Suicide isn’t pleasant. People find you and well… I think the series shows the pain – and the aftermath of grief.”


Many organisations, helplines, and chat services in Denmark are ready to listen, guide, or just “be there” for those who would like to talk about self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, and other issues. Get in touch with the Danish National Association against eating disorders and self-harm @ www.lmsos.dk/ or Lifeline @ www.livslinien.dk or tel. 70201201. Also, there’s always somebody to talk to on CfDP’s own anonymous youth counselling on www.cyberhus.dk.

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