Mich. School Combats Suicide with '13 Reasons Why NOT' Program

Nick Kangadis | May 9, 2017
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The popular streaming service Netflix has shifted its original programming in the last couple of years to promote more social justice issues. They do this in order for the “average Joe” to understand a generation that often makes little sense.

A dean at a Michigan high school decided to take matters into her own hands after watching the controversial Netflix original show, “13 Reasons Why.”

“13 Reasons Why” depicts the plight of a female high school student who wanted people to know the reasons why she was going to commit suicide. Each episode detailed a different reason and even pointed out specific people that contributed to her ultimate demise.


Pam Fine, Dean of Oxford High School, came up with an idea that contradicts the message of “13 Reasons Why” that suicide is a viable last resort for severe depression, mental illness and stress. Fine came up with a 13-day program for students of the high school in memory of a female freshman student who committed suicide four years ago. The program is aptly titled, “13 Reasons Why Not.”

“I watched the series. I thought it accurately depicted the problems that teenagers in high school are facing now,” Fine said. “But it was incredibly troubling to me that suicide was portrayed as being, almost, inevitable, like she had no other option.”

No matter what a person might be going through, there’s always a better option than taking their own life.

Fine decided that instead of listing the negative reasons that could lead someone to think of committing suicide, she would encourage students to think or speak of something good that happened as a result of their specific situations.

On the first day of the program, one of the students told the other students of all the horrible names she’d been called by her classmates over the last two years. Instead of naming the people who constantly put her down, she named someone who lifted her up in the face of adversity.

“This tape is for you Elise Godfrey. You saw me when no one else did and continued to listen, share and appreciate the small things with me,” said senior Riley Juntti. “Thank you for your kindness I can not repay. You are one of my 13 reasons why not.”

It’s a wonderful thing that Fine has done for her students. She’s helping her students learn to cope with life, because life itself only gets more difficult as you grow older.

“Oxford has come together to create an environment this past week where talking about mental illness is socially acceptable,” Juntti continued. “I’ve helped people come forward with their struggles and that’s more than what I can ask for from this project.”

Netflix is doing a huge disservice by showing people that suicide is an acceptable form of looking for a way out of tough situations.

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