13 Reasons Why Author Says Hannah Almost Lived

Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix
13 Reasons Why is not a show that's easy to stomach. The Netflix series, which is based on Jay Asher's acclaimed 2007 YA novel, is about the aftermath of high school junior Hannah Baker's (Katherine Langford) suicide. The scene in which Hannah slits her wrists in the bathtub is one of the most disturbing depictions of suicide to ever be shown on television, and learning about the "reasons" Hannah chose to end her life — which includes being raped by one of her classmates at a party — is gut-wrenching. Now, the author of the novel states things could have gone very, very differently had he stuck with his original ending.
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While Asher never intended to change Hannah's intention to commit suicide — or her decision to leave behind audio tapes illuminating those of the harm they caused her — the author recently stated that he hadn't always planned for Hannah to actually die. In the 10th anniversary edition of 13 Reasons Why, Asher revealed that he wanted Hannah to survive her suicide attempt and give those around her a second chance to do the right thing.
In the original novel, Hannah's suicide is not overtly discussed: It's rumored that she purposely overdosed on pills. Asher's original idea was for Hannah's parents — played by Kate Walsh and Brian d'Arcy James in the Netflix series — to rush her to the hospital after finding out about her plan.
Asher writes:
“I liked the idea of ‘We’ve learned something from this. And yet, here’s a second chance.' Knowing as well that it was going to be difficult when Hannah went back to school to have to deal with those kids. It’s not like everything’s smooth now. In fact, it might be even tenser for her. But now there’s Clay, who’s going to be upfront that he’s there for her.”
Asher eventually decided to scrap the idea, believing that the message would be "stronger" and more of a "cautionary tale" if Hannah died. However, he decided to include the reappearance of Skye — played in the TV series by Sosie Bacon — as a way for Clay (Dylan Minnette) to reach out to another struggling student and, hopefully, help her choose to live.
While I understand Asher's reasoning for wanting to have Hannah survive her suicide attempt, I agree with his ultimate choice. Not only does Hannah's death give a certain weight to the book — Hannah literally has said all she possibly can on the tapes, and there's no going back — having her survive her attempt wouldn't be the best message. Suicide is a serious, permanent thing, and the book did it justice by treating it as such in its final version.
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