For Millennials. By Millennials.
But the way the two shows handle the sensitive issue is vastly different. We think Bojack Horseman just raised much more awareness and prevention- the ‘right’ way. And here, we will share how. Keep reading.
Secretariat Suicide in Bojack Horseman
Bojack Horseman’s role model and someone he aspires to be like since childhood is an actor, Secretariat. As a child, Bojack sends him fan letters asking questions and then watches his interviews on television with wide-eyed fascination and love.
One day, little Bojack watches the news showing footage of the Secretariat jumping off a bridge, and taking away his own life.
There isn’t much said. No heroic last words. No reasons were highlighted. He simply goes away. For Bojack, his hero; the person he saw as his role model, taking away his own life- brings a haunting and poignant side to the show.
For this reason, fans always speculated (read: feared) that Bojack Horseman will eventually commit suicide too.
The positivity here is that Bojack Horseman loses everything he ever had but despite that, he keeps living. There is no suicide as a final act. In fact, the ending scene in the last episode focuses on this message. You have to keep living. There is no other option.
BoJack jokes to Diane in the final moments:
Life’s a bitch and then you die,”
To this, Diane responds.
“Sometimes life’s a bitch and then you keep living.”
The View From Halfway Down
The second last episode of Bojack Horseman titled ‘The View From Halfway Down” shows Bojack Horseman reconnecting with faces from his past, all the while clinging to his own life. The black dripping ooze spreads everywhere and sucks these people into a dark tunnel symbolizing death.
Bojack meets his mother Beatrice Horseman, Herb Kazzaz, Sarah Lynn, and his father, Butterscotch Horseman but not in his own skin. He looks like and is Secretariat- Bojack’s personal hero.
Each character performs on stage and expresses their story one last time; in a hauntingly beautiful manner signifying life and then, death for them. But Secretariat’s poem was the one that shone brightly. took away our breath, and gifted us the skin-prickling realization of what suicide can feel like.
Secretariat says that the worst day of his life was August 22, 1973, when he was banned from racing ever again. It was the only thing that made sense to him and without racing, he felt like a nobody. That day, he decides to leave the world forever. The poem describes him jumping off the bridge. In the first few moments, he is calm, composed, and seemingly ‘free’.
The weak breeze whispers nothing, The water screams sublime
His feet shift, teeter-totter, Deep breath, stand back, it’s time
Toes untouch the overpass, Soon he’s water bound
Eyes locked shut but peek to see, The view from halfway down
A little wind, a summer sun, A river rich and regal, A flood of fond endorphins
Brings a calm that knows no equal
You’re flying now
You see things much more clear than from the ground
It’s all okay, it would be
Were you not now halfway down
Suddenly Secretariat panics, as he describes the moment of his suicide when he realized it is too late to turn back time. The black tunnel of death appears on his side. There’s no running from it now. He is suddenly filled with fear and dread when he realizes he is halfway down.
Thrash to break from gravity
What now could slow the drop
All I’d give for toes to touch
The safety back at top
His voice shakes and breaks, and the dark door keeps getting closer and closer. He does not wish to die anymore. But now the deed is done. He must go. And he must try to find peace in himself as he does.
But this is it, the deed is done
Silence drowns the sound
Before I leaped I should’ve seen
The view from halfway down
The final verse then shares his final regrets. He wished he had seen the view from halfway down. If only he knew what it looked like, he would have never committed suicide.
I really should’ve thought about
The view from halfway down
I wish I could’ve known about
The view from halfway down
Suicide Prevention Compared to 13 Reasons Why
This scene from Bojack Horseman was one of the most beautiful and visual anti-suicide awareness messages ever created. The poem is written by Alison Tafel, and we need to recognize her for this act of sheer brilliance.
Secretariat- a character who committed suicide, was used cleverly to shed light on an issue in a way that could prevent many people from making this move. With a few powerful words, he described the moment of clarity and instant regret that suicide brings. The fear, the panic, and the realization that death is not easy or smooth.
Many people after watching this episode recounted such dark moments in their life. But watching this scene has steered them away from ever considering it. Such as this user:
Many users also compared the difference in Bojack Horseman’s suicide angle to the one shown in 13 Reasons Why which gained negativity for ‘glamorizing’ the act of suicide in a triggering way.
We agree. 13 Reasons Why showed us a graphic and uncomfortable scene in an attempt to raise awareness. But it failed to give the real message that would ‘prevent’ the act itself. A huge number of audience has realized that this poem made the impact that the show 13 Reasons Why tried to make in three seasons.
We think that Bojack Horseman creators deserve even more appreciation for this masterpiece of a scene, for depicting one of the saddest issues in society in a way that would help sufferers of mental illness rethink making this choice, and possibly prevent them from ever going ahead with it.