I think the fatal flaw in most of the characters on the tapes is that they are selfish. So, so, selfish. They are teenagers, so this comes as no surprise. Even Hannah. Justin wanted to keep his gf and bff, so he ignored what happened, Marcus wanted to keep his social standing, Courtney wasn’t ready for people to know she’s a lesbian, Alex used Hannah to get back and Jess and then didn’t refute it (in the locker room) because it made him look better, Ryan wanted his zine to be popular, Sheri wasn’t willing to face the consequences of her actions, Bryce took whatever he wanted (and can go and fucking die) etc.
But one character on the tapes that was not selfish was Clay. When he first met Hannah, he was awkward and nervous but polite. At that moment in time, I think the most he hoped for was being friends with Hannah. As the show progressed, so did their friendship and it flowered into an almost-relationship.
At that moment in Hannah’s life, even though she wanted to be happy, even though she wanted to be with Clay, she couldn’t. She couldn’t wash away what had happened to her in the past even though she knew that Clay wouldn’t hurt her like the others did. She knew he was kind and decent and so unselfish. But in the case of Clay, this unselfishness may have been his downfall.
See, he wanted Hannah. So much. But he never pushed and always did what she asked. This made the audience love him, and also Hannah. But Hannah had been friends with him for what, a year? She would know that he is timid and shy, especially when it comes to girls. She knew that when she told him to leave, he would leave. It was completely selfish and mean of her to tell Clay on the tapes that she wished he didn’t go. Did she not think that that would tear him apart?
Anyways, back to Clay. If Clay had been a little more selfish in that scene, like we saw when he said what he wished he had said, that could have made all the difference. If Hannah had known that just one person was on her side, I don’t think she would have killed herself. I really don’t. If Clay had been selfish for just a moment and had said, “No, I’m not going to leave until you tell me what’s going on,” like he wished he did, I truly believe Hannah would still be alive.