13 Reasons Why or 13 Reasons Why not to watch the show?
Does the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” raise awareness about teen suicide or glamorize it? Most teen’s have heard of or watched the Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why”. This controversial show illustrates the story behind why a high school student named Hannah Baker committed suicide. Hannah endured countless acts of bullying throughout high school and created a depiction of what real students may go through in their own school. Some people argued that this series is unrealistic because a typical suicidal teen is not seen as a tragic character for self destruction, but a sensitive vulnerable individual suffering from mental health problems. Situations like this usually involve depression, anxiety, drugs, or alcohol but in the film, Hannah tells her suicide story with calm clarity. Her suicide was planned and yet the series frees her of all responsibility. She records on cassette tapes of specific people she blamed for her suicide. The show got so popular that it’s coming out with a second season. That, along with a number of other issues including the disturbing graphic scene showing how she committed suicide has worried mental health experts, school counselors and parents who have been warned to prevent their children from watching the show because of the inaccurate and potentially dangerous message on suicide. Many people agree that the show glorifies suicide and can influence the viewers to follow the premise of the show.
Experts, parents, and teachers agree that the show and its premise glorify suicide, not putting in proper context a character’s misguided rationalization for suicide. And since teens have a high rate of suicidal thoughts, many question whether this show should’ve been made at all. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens ages 10 to 20. Ever since the show aired there has been an increase threats of suicide among elementary and middle school students. However some critics admire the show for taking the huge risks that it does. Selena Gomez, one of the show’s coproducers, told the Associated Press: “We stayed very true to the book and that’s initially what Jay Asher created was a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story and I think that’s what we wanted to do.” The show mimics a warning sign of suicide which includes “Making preparations: This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room which is what both Hannah and Alex did before their suicides in the show. Later according to an article, widespread interest in the series and its implications has generated more than 600,000 news reports. Researchers also used google trends to analyze the top 25 questions that involve suicide. Results concluded very high rates of suicide searches. Nonetheless this is the biggest controversy of the show so far and now they’re coming out with a season 2.
Did the show create conversations? Mental health experts say despite the shows issues, it at least gives parents and children a chance to have a conversation about suicide. The National Association of School Psychologist had to advise teens who suffer from suicidal thoughts not to watch at all to prevent impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters. If a child wanted to binge watch the show, adult supervision would be needed. Before airing the show, Netflix said they would add warnings in front of the most graphic scenes but they never did. The scene where she committed suicide bothered a lot of people because it was so graphic. If I had to credit the show for a particular success it would be how it makes you think about the way you treat people. Overall I think the show glorifies suicide because it seemed like Hannah suicided for revenge. The show focuses on a butterfly effect commonly referenced during the entire series. The tapes giving each chain the regret of “if only I didn’t do this one thing, she wouldn’t have killed herself” idea.
Is there a solution to all of this? Researchers suggest, based upon recommendations by the World Health Organization’s media guidelines for preventing suicide, the show should’ve removed the scenes showing suicide. Netflix should’ve included a number for a suicide hotline to spread awareness but instead they show the main character’s suicide over a three-minute scene showing viewers its graphic nature, that the content may be unsuitable for certain ages but I don’t find that to help with prevention. Information I collected about the shows controversy is how to keep every bit of harmful messaging away from our children or if they really wanted to watch the show, have them watch with a parent. When I think about all the other teens out there struggling with mental health problems and suicidal ideation who are eagerly binge watching through every episode of this series right now, I want to alert every parent that they must be prepared to counter the actions their children might come across while watching the show because this show does glamorize suicide.