In early May, some of the stars from the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why got together for a poolside mini-reunion in Joshua Tree, California. The show ended a year ago, in June 2020, after a four-season run, but the cast is still close, and unfortunately, all seasons are still streaming on Netflix.
Actor Justin Prentice, who played antagonist Bryce Walker in the show, posted a photo of the cast “hanging out by the pool and just having a good time,” according to Seventeen magazine. Prentice captioned the photo: “Fun weekend in the desert. … Had us a little family reunion. Fulfilled some of my Wild West fantasies.”
Honestly, I don’t care to know what took place in the desert that weekend. But I do care deeply about those friends and families who are no longer able to have reunions this side of heaven partly because of the harm caused by 13 Reasons Why.
The Brights from Alabama are one of those families. Their daughter Anna won’t be walking across the stage today to receive her high school diploma with the rest of her classmates.
She also missed senior night, her band awards ceremony, prom, countless ballgames, parties, sleepovers, and other milestones of teenage life. In fact, she missed out on all four years of her high school career.
On April 18, 2017, 14-year-old Anna Bright took her own life after watching the first season of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. She mimicked her death after the suicide of the lead character in the series. So there’s no question that the series had a profound impact on her life … and her death.
Although young, Anna was already an artist, musician, photographer, writer, cheerleader, and scholar. She had so much going for herself, but the dark side of the battle going on within her eventually won.
And with that grim victory, came a devastating loss for the Bright family and all who loved Anna.
So as May, Mental Health Awareness Month, concludes with high school graduations across the country, summer breaks, and pool parties galore, remember those who are no longer here to celebrate, and remember their loved ones who have no reason to celebrate.
The writers of the original Netflix series were very intentional when it came to concluding its fourth and final season with the characters’ high school graduation.
Showrunner Brian Yorkey told Entertainment Weekly in May 2020, “[B]ringing these characters to their graduation and to scattering to their next things felt like the logical ending point.”
Makes perfect sense! Graduation is the end-all for high school students. It’s what they work toward for the first 18 years of their lives. But what doesn’t make sense – any sense at all – is the length to which the show’s writers were willing to go, all for the sake of entertainment and all in the name of mental health awareness.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read my review and analysis of the first three seasons below.
Season 1 – Why Did Anna Bright Die?
Season 2 – ‘13 Reasons Why’ Not to Watch Season 2
Season 3 – ‘13 Reasons Why’ Season 3 Digs Its Own Grave
You can also do a search for “13 Reasons Why” on afa.net/thestand and on afajournal.org for more articles on the dangerous series and AFA’s campaign against Netflix.
Covered in prayers of protection for my heart and mind, I personally reviewed all four seasons of the show. And for some reason, I never put my thoughts into written words for Season 4. Probably because there was just nothing left to say about the same filth and perversion of the first three seasons that was taken to the nth degree in the fourth.
There is nothing redemptive about any of it. And I will stand by this claim time and again that 13 Reasons Why did more harm than good. If you don’t believe me, take time to watch this video of Anna Bright’s story. She’s not the only one who missed her high school graduation as a result of this series.
Anna’s mother, Patrice, recently spoke at what would have been her daughter’s senior band awards ceremony. She recalled fond memories of Anna; she shared about her tragic death; she told her daughter’s classmates that they are valuable, and she encouraged them to seek help when life becomes too overwhelming. She ended with a poem she wrote about Anna.
Then just this morning, Patrice posted another poem titled “On Your Graduation Day” to her Facebook account:
My heart explodes with emotion
For your graduation day,
But not the kind it should have
Because too early, you went away.
My eyes brim heavy with tears
That fall softly to the floor
Which should be for the accomplishments you have made
Instead, for the ones you will make no more.
So many things I wish for,
So many things that will never be.
So many things I hoped for you,
None of those will I ever see.
Frozen in time
When your earthly life ceased.
How grateful I am for faith!
Seeing you again is my only hope and peace!
Walking on to honor the life you lived
In the short time you were here on earth.
Even though painful and at times, dim
You were my treasure from birth.
We are told to lay up treasures in Heaven,
And my dear, that’s where you are.
Looking forward to that great reunion day!
Where we will no more be apart!
‘Til then, my heart yearns for you,
All the while, grateful for your brother and dad.
And happy for the goals your friends are achieving.
And proud for their parents to experience graduation with their kids at last!
I will try to be happy today
And share in the joy for others that graduation brings.
Even though I really wished to experience
With you all these things.
I love you, Anna, and wish you were here to experience your graduation day with all your friends.
So as you scroll through social media photos of graduates throwing their caps in the air, say a prayer for the Bright family and for all those families whose hearts are aching on graduation day. And if you know someone who is fighting a battle within and needs help, reach out to them now. Don’t wait. Life is precious. Don’t leave it up to the world and the entertainment industry to tell them otherwise.
For free and confidential support around the clock, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Anna (kindergarten, 8th grade, & 5th grade)