First-year Mallory Ward found it extremely difficult to watch.
“I watched most of it with a friend, and I actually had to fast-forward through certain parts because it was just a lot to watch,” she said. “I definitely had to skip through the ending of the last episode.”
Despite the show’s heavy themes, first-year Jinna Hatfield said those themes are important to address.
“Honestly, I think with issues about suicide and rape and some of the issues that they tackle in the show, there needs to be a lot of honesty with its portrayal,” she said. “They are difficult issues, but we need to build more visibility around them.”
Hatfield said she believes the other issues — sexual assault, stalking, toxic relationships — complemented the main theme of suicide.
“A lot of different factors influence suicide, and I think all these issues impacted Hannah’s decision to take her own life,” she said.
Gillies said the series can be relatable to everyone, but especially to teens.
“For adults, it’s easier to help yourself, but as a teenager, you think everything is the end of the world and you don’t realize that life goes on,” she said. “As an adult, you already know you’ve been through things so you’re more likely to think you’ll be able to get through it.”
Additionally, Gillies stressed the importance of not making assumptions.
“There are people who seem really happy, but they’re not happy at all,” she said. “You can’t actually read somebody to the full extent you think you can.”
Ward agreed, saying it’s hard for a stranger to know what’s going in your life, especially at a large place like UNC.
“You never have any idea,” she said. “Even though UNC is huge, I probably only have one or two friends that I will talk to about anything, even relatively close to that caliber, who would have any idea of anything like that going on.”
César Rodriguez, a junior and the director of trainings for Rethink Psychiatric Illness, said they believe the show failed at accurately portraying suicide.
“I think it’s romanticizing suicide, making suicide seem like this beautiful drawn-out process,” they said. “Whereas for some people, it can be very scary and personal.”
However, they noted that the show does a good job at talking about it.
“When we talk about suicide, especially in the media, it’s more of a spectacle. A majority of the time it’s covered up and not really talked about.”
Rodriguez also gave a few key signs to look out for when someone needs help.
“If you notice someone is going through a state of agitation or depression to a state of calmness, that’s usually an indication that a person has decided to die,” they said. “I think the biggest step if you’re concerned about if someone is suicidal is just asking them.”
Rodriguez said such an individual may be trying to alert someone that they need help.
“A majority of the time a person is considering suicide, they don’t actually want to die,” they said. “They just want a solution to a very temporary problem, and making yourself available to them is really important.”
Rethink, a student organization committed to changing the way that we think and talk about mental illnesses on campus and in our community, hosts sensitization trainings that Rodriguez said are a good way to raise awareness about suicide and mental health on campus.
“One of the big things we’re known for is our four-hour training, which is really extensive about mental health advocacy. We’ve trained over several hundred students and we offer them every semester," they said.
“If you’re a UNC student, the training is a really great starting point for everyone. It really helps.”