’13 Reasons Why Not’ — a project by high school students targeted to prevent suicide

With the rise of the popularity of the Netflix Original series “13 Reasons Why”, a book adaptation written by Jay Asher, the show has also aimed to raise awareness on mental health, specifically suicide.

But high school students at the Oxford High School wanted to raise awareness on a different scale by coming up with ‘13 Reasons Why Not‘.

According to a report by The Oakland Press news, “the project was the brainchild of Dean of Oxford High School Pam Fine in memory of Megan Abbott, a freshman who committed suicide four years ago.

Pam Fine has stated in the interview with the said newspaper that the idea of ‘13 Reasons Why Not‘ came from the vision that “even though it can get very dark, there is always hope“, how there are “no 13 reasons why” and “suicide is not an option“.

The Netflix original series centralizes on the life of Hannah Baker who explains through mixtapes thirteen reasons why she took her own life. Premiered just this year, the series has been criticized and bashed  for handling sensitive issues with suicide being the primary topic.

Beth Dubber of Associated Press e1494436297268
Photo courtesy of Beth Dubber

The project began last May 1 and is bound to continue for 13 days where “a recording of a different student will play during the morning announcements. In the recording, played for the entire student body, the teens reveal a problem they’re struggling with. At the end of the recording, instead of blaming someone, the students thank a classmate who has helped them.

The first to begin the series of played recordings through the morning announcements was senior student Riley Juntti.

“You saw me when no one else did and continued to listen, share and appreciate the small things with me. Thank you for your kindness I can not repay. You are one of my 13 reasons why not,” as said by Juntti who dedicated her message to a specific person.

Riley Juntii e1494435563762Photo courtesy of Riley Juntti. These seniors at Oxford High School in Michigan are recording tapes to explain why suicide isn’t the answer. From left are Jeam Linares, Jordan Jaden, Riley Juntti, Alexa Alban, Kayla Manzella and Maddy Drypes. (Caption courtesy of The Washington Post)

The Oakland Press also reveals that Juntti has received backlash and negative reception but “she doesn’t care” as she wanted to reach out to girls “who have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse“, as reflected by some issues in the television series.

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

Oxford High School Principal Todd Dunckley is said to be “supportive of this project“.

I think it makes students realize that, everyday, they can affect someone with their words and actions,” he said. “It’s a nice way to start the day, to be quite honest,” he says.