If you haven’t seen 13 Reasons Why, it is a Netflix Original Series about a teenage girl who commits suicide. She is bullied until the point of breaking. I cried as I watched a tormented teenager’s life absolutely break her with little to no help. While my situation was never so bad as hers, I can still understand a fraction of the pain she endured.
13 Reasons Why brought back memories for me. I’ve seen reviews online that say that some of the things that went on in the show would not happen in real life, especially some of the things about the school faculty. However, I can absolutely see this happening.
It reminded me of a memory from my high school days. I had a teacher that we will call Mr. Blank since I don’t want to put someone “on blast” for something that happened fifteen years ago. It’s not a big secret that I was bullied in school. An overweight introvert with a love of books is an easy target. Throw in that I wore glasses and I might as well have had a bullseye on my back.
There was also an issue with my health. On one of my trips to the doctor, I got the unsettling news that I would probably never have kids. For a fifteen year old, this can be quite traumatic. So, in true Kacie form, I did what I did best. I wrote about it. In a letter. To a friend. I wrote something that went like I went to the doctor, didn’t get the news I wanted, but that everything would fine. Things would work out. I wrote that I hoped this didn’t change my relationship with my boyfriend (He is now my husband).
Having a bad day, feeling off with everything in life, and being an absent minded teen, I dropped the note in Mr. Blank’s class. He found it on the floor and read it out loud to his next class. He completely misread the situation. He told the class that getting yourself pregnant is no way to try to keep a guy. He had a good laugh with several students. A friend later asked me if everything was okay with me. She told me about the note, about all the laughing, and said that he even passed the note around to see if anyone recognized the handwriting. Along with her, someone else had noticed my handwriting and told the entire class. Rumors couldn’t have started faster if they had announced it over the PA system.
Mr. Blank was one of my favorite teachers. He was a great teacher, a writer, and brilliant when it came to literature. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe he would put someone out there like that. Then, after I thought about it, I found it didn’t surprise me. He often called out people on their homework and made them feel pretty small because they didn’t know as many big words as he did. At break, I went to claim my note. I explained my situation and asked him if he would kindly not talk about it anymore. I had just needed to get the words out of my hurt heart and uncloud my mind in a note to a friend. He didn’t say much, didn’t apologize.
However, I was humiliated. The initial fall out was much as to be expected. I was a fifteen year old virgin with a scarlet letter. I was fortunate that it happened toward the end of the year. It could have gotten much worse. Teenagers can seem like angels to teachers and their family but be horrid to their peers.
There were many other instances of bullying from my peers, but when it’s instigated by a teacher, it is a whole new experience.
After watching the show, I saw how easily this could be any teenager walking around today. My heart constricts at the thought of these kids going through the motions of life, needing help, and finding none. I hope that we as adults will stop failing these kids and letting them hurt until the point of breaking.
If anyone of any age needs to talk or needs help, reach out. To me. To anyone.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
They also offer chat on their website.