13 Reasons Why is a story about suicide and its impact on those left behind, but what if no one in the story had actually committed suicide? What if it dealt with becoming a suicide-attempt survivor instead? That's what almost happened in Jay Asher's best-selling novel.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Asher confessed that in the original ending of his book, Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford in Netflix's adaptation) attempts to overdose on pills but eventually has her stomach pumped in time to save her life. "I liked the idea of 'We’ve learned something from this. And yet, here's a second chance,'" Asher said.
However, he quickly understood this ultimately wouldn't work, because when you die, everything stops. You don't get any new opportunities or do-overs. "Once I realized that the message of the story would be stronger and that it would definitely be more of a cautionary tale," Asher declared, "I felt that was definitely the way to go."
As someone who actually had to look away during Hannah's graphic, raw suicide scene on the last episode of the show — which greatly differed from how her death went down in the book — it's surreal to imagine there was almost a world in which Hannah Baker didn't commit suicide.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, there are ways to get help. Find resources, tips, and immediate help at Half of Us, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.