Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
Older and Not-So-Wiser
Adults. They're supposed to be the ones to save you from the bullies, get your out of bad situations, and make you feel better about yourself… right? Mr. Porter, Hannah's guidance counselor, sure doesn't fit the bill. Because he's an adult, is he even more to blame for Hannah's death than the young kids who maybe just don't know any better? What do you think?
Mr. Porter is the twelfth and final person on Hannah's list. His role in the story is simple: he fails to get help from a mental health professional or even to call Hannah's parents to alert them when she admits to him that she is suicidal. More than anybody else, Mr. Porter had the direct power to stop Hannah from killing herself. The big question is, why did he fail?
Could it be poor training? Some fatal flaw in his character? Laziness? Apathy? Caution? Sleep deprivation? Whatever the reason, Mr. Porter doesn't use his maturity or his professional skills to understand that there truly is a problem.
A True Story with a Message
We can have a healthy dose of skepticism about Hannah's version of other events in the story, but Mr. Porter's tape is a recording of his actual conversation with her, not her description of it. Finally we are able to see Hannah in a completely, one hundred percent sympathetic light: she tried to get help, and no one would listen.
As noted in "Tone," this is a book with a message. In the case of Mr. Porter, it's a message to adults: suicide is a serious problem for young people. Don't let yourself be a Mr. Porter. If you meet someone who even hints that they might be suicidal, get them some help. Immediately. (See our "Best of the Web" section for more links to organizations that can help people in Hannah's position.)