Que(e)rying Youth Suicide: Sexism, Racism, and Violence in Skim and 13 Reasons Why

Main Article Content

Jocelyn Sakal Froese
Cameron Greensmith


This paper troubles positivist and pathological discourses surrounding youth suicide through critical engagement with young adult fiction: Skim and 13 Reasons Why. These texts offer opportunities for readers to dwell on and question youth suicide prevention and intervention through an engagement with affect, gender, queerness, and race. Skim (2008, Groundwood) and 13 Reasons Why (2017) counter ‘it gets better’ stories: they interrogate the inevitability of bullying, question the predictable approaches that schools take in their response to violence, and assert that the issue at hand is more systematic. Together, these analytics que(e)ry youth suicide by asking: how does the biopolitics (or necropolitics) of livability fit into popularized understandings of youth suicide? Read together, Skim and 13 Reasons Why provide opportunities to meaningfully question livability through the characters of Skim and Courtney—two Asian girls who bear the brunt of racist and sexist violence. Skim becomes a ‘project’ of white girls’ anti-suicide campaign and Courtney is barely living as she attempts to secure the plaform of ‘model minority.’ Both girls are queer, too. In its entirety, this paper  arguse that popularized models of suicide intervention continue to ignore the pressing needs of queer Asian girls—such as Skim and Courtney.

Article Details

Articles (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biographies

Jocelyn Sakal Froese, Wilfrid Laurier University

English & Film Studies, Foundations

Cameron Greensmith, Kennesaw State University

American Studies Program, and Gender and Women's Studies Program Department of Social Work and Human Services


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