Schools everywhere are warning parents about 13 Reasons Why, Netflix’s most recently popular and controversial series, concerned that the drama could be glorifying suicide.
I personally think that it was smart of the directors to want to get people to talk about uneasy topics, such as rape and suicide, and the overarching “be nicer to people” theme was definitely clear by the end of the series. Ellis Sophomore Lucia Snyderman says that once she started watching the show, “it was really hard to stop” because of the mystery and suspense surrounding the plot and the characters in Hannah’s tapes. After finishing the show, Snyderman concluded that the show really made her think about how “little things can have such an impact on someone’s life and you don’t really know what’s going on in another person’s head.”
However, I find it unrealistic that a teenager would go through the effort of retelling her story through tapes just so she could make a point to the people who mistreated her. Could this be glorifying her suicide as an act of “bravery”? And although the graphic scenes are included in the series on purpose to show how awful a situation like Hannah’s could be, think about the psychological impact on teens — all teens, but especially those with mental illnesses, and also those who have had awful experiences in their lives that are similar to Hannah’s. Could watching the show help them cope, or could it make them feel worse?
I also think that the “we all killed Hannah” mindset that the main characters take is particularly scarring. When a person commits suicide, it affects everyone around them — their family, friends, teachers, and even acquaintances. Lots of these people think that they could have done something to prevent it from happening, and since there’s nothing one can do to change the situation, these people live with this burden of guilt for the rest of their lives. Not only is it important to reach out to others who are struggling, but it is also important to help people who have witnessed a suicide in their lives.
A relative of mine, who we will name Anonymous, remembers a colleague of his, who, unfortunately, decided to end his life. While numerous traumatic events in a person’s life can push a person to commit suicide, this was not the case, and sometimes, “there’s just no reason”, Anonymous says.