By now most of us have probably heard of or seen the new Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.” An adaptation of the young adult novel of the same name, the show tells the fictional story of Hannah, a teenage girl who commits suicide. Prior to her death, Hannah records 13 cassette tapes that each explain a “reason” why she made the decision to take her own life. Each reason blames a different person for something they did or failed to do to her.
While the show may have some laudable anti-bullying goals, the suggestion that there could be any reasons that justify committing suicide is a dangerous one in our modern culture and especially for our students. Although we recommend against explicit discussion of the show with students, this cultural event provides an opportunity for us as adults, parents, and educators to have a conversation with the young people in our lives about the value and beauty of life, the truth about the existence of suffering and evil, what the Church teaches about suicide, and how to find help if someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
In this lesson your students will:
- Understand Catholic teaching about the beauty and dignity of human life
- Explore what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness and the obligations that flow from our origin
- Consider the existence and nature of evil and human suffering and how God alone can bring good even out of evil
- Understand Catholic teaching about suicide and the sanctity of human life