You Don't Have to Rewatch 13 Reasons Why to Understand Why Alex Wants to Shoot Himself
We've been rewatching the first season of 13 Reasons Why to catch up on characters and storylines, and, of course, to prepare for the highly anticipated second season. There is a ton of information revealed in that first batch of episodes, so you may have missed some details the first time around.
Toward the end of the first season, an ambulance is rushing an anonymous teenage boy with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the hospital. During the season finale, the student who shot himself in the head is revealed to be Alex Standall. The season ends with Alex in critical condition and everyone at school fearing that they might have lost not one but two classmates to suicide. If you're tuning in to season two, you might need a refresher on why Alex took such extreme measures.
Alex made it onto the tapes for ending his close-knit friendship with Hannah so that he could date their other friend Jessica. He was also the one who put her name on "the list" at school, unintentionally labeling her as easy and promiscuous. Because of the list, Hannah is plagued with unwanted, unwarranted attention from male classmates like Bryce, who makes multiple advances toward her before sexually assaulting her at his party.
Out of all of the people who Hannah names in the tapes, he was the most visibly affected — and destroyed — by his part in her story. Alex continues to spiral into a deep, dark depression throughout the course of the first season. Of course, everyone on the tapes feels a certain amount of guilt for what happened, but he appears to feel such strong, intense feelings of guilt and devastation — to the point where he wants to come clean and tell the truth. Unlike a lot of his classmates, who don't want the rest of the school to find out about the tapes, he would rather come clean and accept the role he inadvertently played in the suicide of his friend.
The pressure and guilt lead him to a series of unhealthy behaviors: he gets into a fight and plummets into the pool unexpectedly. Looking back, there are more than a few warning signs that Alex is getting lost in severe, hopeless depression before he finally attempts to shoot himself.
Warning: spoilers for the new season ahead!
In the beginning of season two, we see that he survived and is on the road to recovering, both physically and mentally, from his suicide attempt. He also spends most of the season attempting to piece together why, exactly, he shot himself, after finding his suicide note. He has no memory of why he wrote "I could have stopped it," but knows he didn't mean Hannah's death.
By the season two finale, Alex finally realizes the devastating truth: the night of Bryce's party, he and Monty heard Hannah's cries of anguish as she was being raped by Bryce in the hot tub. Instead of going out to stop it or see what was going on, they assumed it was just another one of Bryce's "sluts"; that's why Alex couldn't live with himself.
Fortunately he's in a much better place by the time season two wraps up.