13 Reasons Why Not: A Student Movement

“Thank you for your kindness I cannot repay. You are one of my 13 reasons why not.” – Riley Juntti.

Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why has taken the world by a storm in recent months. Many parents were concerned that the show might be encouraging suicidal kids to act on their impulses. The kids themselves have other ideas.

“I think the show accurately depicted what happens in high school … the problem we had with the show is it made it seem like suicide was the only option and didn’t raise mental health awareness, and it didn’t give resources,” Riley Juntti, a high-school student in Michigan said. “That was very troubling for us; we wanted to fix that with our project.”

Their project is called 13 Reasons Why Not. It was organized by hundreds of students in a Michigan high-school. In this project, the teens tell their personal stories dealing with difficult subjects like sexual assault, depression, abuse, and bullying, hoping to give their fellow students a voice and let them know that they’re not alone. The students also describe a person who helped them through that time, telling their reason “why not” – why they didn’t decide to kill themselves during such dark periods in their lives. The project is partially in response to the Netflix series, and partially in memory of Megan Albott, who was a freshman at the high school when she committed suicide in 2013.

Megan’s sister, Morgan said: “I think if Megan had something like this going on in school when she was there, we would have had more time with her.”

School officials say that this project has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the school. Fewer students are tardy. The halls are silent in the morning as the tapes of Thirteen Reasons Why Not are broadcasted over the school radio. More and more students struggling with personal issues are reaching out and asking for help.

“Once your community is affected by suicide, you can’t get that child back. We’re trying to make a project before that happens to us again.” – Riley Juntti

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