3 Reasons Why "13 Reasons Why" Isn't Getting It Right

Posted on May 16, 2017


Based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher, the controversial Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" came about just March of this year, exploding in popularity so fast that producers have already confirmed the making of a second season.

But according to Psychology Today, mental-health specialists have expressed concern that the show glorifies suicide and lacks the proper context of its character's misguided rationalization for suicide. And since the rate of suicidal thoughts among teens are only rising, many question whether the show should have been made at all. Here are the three main arguments that any viewer should be aware of before, and after, watching the show:

1. Suicide is not caused by bullying alone.
In reality, no one thing leads to suicide. Many people who experience bullying or other challenging experiences do not go on to attempt the taking of their own life. But the show presents a relatively simplistic story without background on who Hannah is as a person and why the particular cruelties of high school hit her so harshly.

2. Suicide is not revenge.
As Kristen Douglas, spokesperson for Australian youth mental health organisation Headspace, puts it, "[Hannah Baker is] telling the story in a way that means she’s getting resolution about her suicide, and that’s not a reality. If young people die by suicide it’s very final; you don’t get to see the reaction of people, you don’t get to see the reaction of bullies, you don’t get to be involved in your own funeral. Sadly, I think young people sometimes don’t always fully understand the finality of death. You don’t get resolution about that.”

3. Suicide is not the glorified notion that the show depicts it to be.
The way "13 Reasons Why" presents suicide and mental health as an entertaining puzzle for people to solve has caused many a lot of distress, and is perhaps the root of the show's widespread controversy. While some appreciate the fact that it raises awareness and brings about discussion, others argue that people watching the series for entertainment is offensive, and that the show has made a drama out of something meant to be sensitive and personal.

It is not to say that viewers should avoid the show completely, but the National Association of School Psychologists has advised teenagers who have or have ever had suicidal thoughts to avoid "13 Reasons Why". The main idea is that while we as a society do need to open up the conversation on suicide and mental health, perhaps there are some better and more responsible ways of doing so.

Category(s):Bullying, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Depression, Suicide Prevention

Source material from Psychology Today

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