No doubt you have been touched by the viral Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why in some way or another, whether you watched it through flowing tears or heard divisive commentary in the media. Either way, it’s impossible to deny that the show has paved the way for a new and more open narrative on teen suicide.


One school has taken this and incorporated it into their own community, by creating their own initiative to show solidarity and support for their students.


’13 Reasons Why Not’ is a new project launched by pupils at Oxford High School, in Michigan, created to show students that suicide is not the answer – even when it seems like all hope is lost, just like the show’s main character, Hannah Baker.


The idea was first broached by the Dean of Students at the school, who pitched it to the senior leadership class. The aim was to show support to those struggling with their mental health, and to remind them that love and friendship can guide them through even their lowest moments.


13 Reasons Why Not was rolled out on May 1, in a very clever format. Instead of making the usual school-related announcements over the intercom, students who had gone through tough times shared their stories with the entire school audience.



The first student up was Riley Juntii, who opened up about a toxic relationship that caused her suicidal thoughts. But rather than calling out the person who hurt her (as Hannah did in 13 Reasons Why), Riley name-checked the friend who helped her through that difficult time. This person was ‘one of the 13 reasons why not’.


The initiative has proven overwhelmingly successful at the school. While others have been queuing up to share their own stories, in a bid to open engagement on the topic of mental health and suicide, attendance during the first lesson – when the announcements are being made – has shot up.


“We’re setting a new standard for our school, and a new environment. I think it sets a message that we have to start treating each other better,” said Riley.


Another person who has welcomed the initiative is Morgan Abbott, whose sister Megan – a former student of the school – took her own life back in July 2013.


She told a local news publication: “I think if Megan had something like this going on in school when she was there, we would have had more time with her.”


What are your thoughts?