Saturday, 29 April 2017

13 Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why doesn't glamorise suicide

***Be warned, this article contains spoilers.***



Like so many people I've been engrossed in the show about a teenage girl called Hannah Baker who takes her own life and leaves 13 cassette tapes behind explaining why.

In some way it seems like the tapes are there to get revenge on everybody who's wronged Hannah and driven her to commit suicide.

There's also been accusations that it glamorises suicide. That is one accusation that I don't agree with.

Here's 13 reasons why 13 Reasons Why doesn't glamorise suicide in my opinion -


The loss of a young life isn't glamorous.

1- There's nothing glamorous about a bright, intelligent girl like Hannah with her whole future ahead of her killing herself because she can't take life any more.

2- The life of the teens depicted on 13 Reasons Why is terrible. The pressures on the students is immense and instead of supporting each other most of them tear each other apart. Bullying is seen as normal.

3- Anything you do or say can be twisted and around the school in seconds thanks to mobile phones and the Internet. Hannah has her first kiss, next she knows the seemingly nice guy turns out to be a jerk who claims she did more than just kiss him.


The obnoxious Bryce.

4- There's nothing glamorous about a girl being raped by her boyfriend's best friend whilst she's incapacitated by alcohol as her boyfriend who should be protecting her walks away. At a time when there's research showing that many young people have a difficult time knowing when rape is rape it highlights something very important.

5- The girls in the show can be real mean girls. One minute they're helping you get home safely, the next they're driving away from an accident that takes out a stop sign and very soon after causes an accident where someone dies.

6- It shows the effects of suicide on the ones left behind.
Watching the heartbreak Hannah's parents go through, especially her mother is gut wrenching. With Clay who loved Hannah, there's also a sense of great loss and of what might have been for him and Hannah.

7- The immaturity of the boys compared to the girls is frequently highlighted throughout the show. They rarely take responsibility for any of their actions or feel any guilt. There's always a sense that if you're good at sport and popular at school you can do whatever the hell you want to.

8- Girls face unbelievable pressure. Either they're frigid or easy. There seems to be no middle ground. And it's not just guys who are judging and rating them, it's the girls who should know better. So much for the sisterhood.

9- The students seem to live in a parallel universe to the teachers and parents and have no support system. They don't let their parents into their lives. Instead they bury all of their pain with drugs and alcohol and by being mean to their peers and oblivious to their pain.

10-  Teachers do try to help, but not near enough and they seem oblivious to what's going on right under their noses. The bullying, the peer pressure, the drugs and alcohol.


Even the seemingly nice guys screw Hannah over.

11- It shows the characters as they really are warts and all i.e not in the least bit glamorous or people we would want to be. Even the wonderful Clay, our main character isn't perfect. Throughout 13 Reasons Why there's a strong sense that if only he'd told Hannah how he felt she would still be alive.

12- We wouldn't want to be anyone in the show. They may be young but none of them seem particularly happy. Hannah killed herself, but it could have just as easily have been anyone else in the show.

13- You spend the whole time watching the show with a sense of deep sadness, a feeling that you want to grab all of the young cast by the scruff of the neck and tell them school doesn't last forever. You have the rest of your life.

Conclusion - Whatever anyone thinks, it has to be a good thing that teenage suicide is at least being discussed. Too many young people are taking their own lives. It's something we need to talk about and if shows like 13 Reasons Why make that happen it has got to be a good thing.

On a personal note, as someone who was bullied mercilessly at school and the place where I lived and who contemplated suicide, I found the show cathartic and grittily realistic. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Scotland's Missing Case Files: Moira Anderson - The little girl who never went home


60 years ago Moira Anderson disappeared
There can be few crimes more heinous than the murder of a child. When that's compounded by that child's body never being found, it's particularly cruel to the child's family who are denied the chance to lay their loved one to rest.

Sixty long years ago, a wee girl called Moira Anderson left her grandmother's house in Coatbridge in Scotland to go to the shops. She never returned. It was during a heavy snowstorm and the 11-year-old was last seen boarding a Baxter's bus.

This is not so much a case of who killed the little girl because there seems no doubt about that.


Her killer
Convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore was driving the bus that day. The bus that tragic Moira got on. Later in the very same year, he was jailed for raping a 17-year-old babysitter.

But Gartshore will never confess to police that he killed Moira or be held accountable because he died in 2006. But there seems few doubts that he murdered the child.

Convicted child abuser James Gallogley said his former friend Gartshore boasted of murdering Moira. He wasn't alone in believing the former soldier took Moira from this world.

Gartshore's very own daughter crime writer Sandra Brown was convinced he was the killer and campaigned to have her father charged. Scottish prosecutors also announced in 2014 that he would have faced prosecution for the schoolgirl's murder if he were still alive.



Police search the canal for traces of Moira

Where he put Moira's body nobody knows. But the search goes on but it might not have had to. In 1957 a man was spotted carrying a large heavy sack towards a canal. The sighting was reported to police but they never acted on it.


The search for Moira 
In 2013, a grave was excavated at Monkland Cemetery in Coatbridge after it was believed that evil Gartshore buried Moira's body in the family plot of an acquaintance. But nothing was found.

As I write this, there's been another update. Along with divers, Police Scotland are retrieving objects from a canal for assessment by forensic experts in the search for the schoolgirl.

Maybe one day very soon, a little girl called Moira can make it home and finally be laid to rest at last.


Moira's memory will live on  
Footnote - Moira Anderson's name continues to live on through the foundation that bears her name and helps survivors of child abuse. 

You can learn more about the foundation here.

March 2017 Update - Sadly, the police found no trace of Moira in the canal. 



Monday, 20 February 2017

Scotland's Missing Crime Files: The disappearance of devoted mum Arlene Fraser

This is another case that has always haunted me and inspired to write crime like Vile City

Tragic Arlene - was she killed by her husband Nat Fraser?

Pretty mum-of-two Arlene Fraser was just 33-years-old when she was last seen in the Scottish town of Elgin in 1998. Since that day she was never seen again.

Picture the scene in Arlene's house. It looked as if it'd been abandoned suddenly. 

The vacuum cleaner was still plugged in and the washing machine had been recently used.

Could Arlene have left and be living somewhere else?

This was a theory that was touted by Nat Fraser and his defence. 

If Arlene had left she hadn't been prepared.  

Her medication for Crohn's disease, her glasses and contact lenses were still in the house.

Would she really leave home without her children? 

Then there were her children. Would the devoted mum have left without them? Not by choice.

Just weeks before her disappearance, her violent husband Nat Fraser had throttled her for coming home late. He was sentenced to eighteen months for that assault but that only happened two years after the assault on his wife which was first treated as attempted murder. 

Had he been convicted sooner she might not have been killed.

Tragically, Arlene had been set to divorce her violent husband and start a new life. 

She was never given that chance.



What happened to Arlene?

Initially her disappearance was treated as a missing persons case. The detective in charge of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Simpson said: "Something criminal has taken place here. Arlene has been the victim of a crime. I am of the opinion that she's dead. There's no indication that she's living somewhere else."

The police believe Nat Fraser paid someone to wipe his wife off the face of the earth. During the search for her, he was accused of not being interested in her whereabouts as if he already knew where she was.

In 2003, he was convicted of her murder and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

In 2011, he successfully challenged his conviction and it was quashed. But in 2012 in a new trial he was again convicted of Arlene's murder. In 2013, he lost yet another appeal. 

DOUBT 

So, why was there so much doubt over the husband's conviction?

There was no body and Nat Fraser did not commit the murder himself. 

The prosecution argued that Nat Fraser accused his wife of having a lover and decided that he wanted her dead to avoid giving her half his fortune. What's more Fraser was willing to pay someone £15, 000 to kill her.

Weeks before she vanished, Nat Fraser is alleged to have said to his wife: "If you are not going to live with me, you will not be living with anyone."

Chillingly that came true.

After she went missing, her son Jamie, who was only ten at the time, left a heartbreaking note for his mum. It read."Mother, where are u?"

He'd never get an answer to that question.

Arlene's body has never been found so her children and the rest of her family don't have a grave to visit. It's believed that her body was disposed off after she was murdered. Maybe even fed to pigs or burnt. 

What do Arlene's family think? 

Arlene's mother Isabelle Thompson spoke after Fraser's last appeal: "Hopefully we can get on with our lives, it's been never-ending."

In a shock documentary on Channel 4, in 2013 Arlene's daughter Natalie Fraser who was just five-years-old when her mum went missing, said she was "100 per cent" sure that her dad's friend Hector Dick and not her dad Nat Fraser, who was guilty of killed her mum. 

Hector had testified against her dad. 

Why would Hector Dick kill Arlene? 

Did he think he was doing a friend a favour? Or, did he fall for Arlene and get upset when she spurned his advances? 

There has been no evidence pointing to that.

All of the evidence points to Nat Fraser arranging the murder of his wife. 

Read about the documentary here