The new Netflix TV series “13 Reasons Why” became a popular hit as soon as it was released. Kids as young as the age of 12 started to tune in to watch this graphic series. The show is focused on a girl named Hannah Baker and how she made video tapes explaining to others how they took part in her suicide. The show “13 Reasons Why” was intended to reach teenagers to help them talk about suicide, however, it caused more damage than expected.
Families of teens have reached out to show creators criticizing them for being an enormous factor in the death of their children. The gruesome suicide has been implemented into teens minds after viewing the final episode of the series. For some, this may seem like just another TV show, but for others already struggling with mental disorders, such as depression, could see suicide as their only option. This was just the case for the Herndon and Chui families, who both had teenage girls take their own life after binge watching the series. Jacqueline Howard states, “the risk of suicide contagion and copycat behavior is one of mental health experts’ leading causes of concern tied to ’13 Reasons Why” (Par. 17). Basically, she is saying the show almost created a monkey see, monkey do situation. Three weeks after the show was released, internet searches like “how to commit suicide” rose by 26% than what was projected for that time period. While there is evidence that suicide prevention searches rose, the negatives far outweigh the positives.
Another problem regarding “13 Reasons Why” is the depiction of the school officials in authority. In most episodes, the school’s guidance counselor is doing nothing to benefit the students. Ashley Aker, a therapist, agrees when she states, “The particular scene with the counselor and Hannah was anger inducing because this is how media is choosing to represent mental health professionals” (Par. 4). Ashley Aker’s point is that several TV shows represent school counselors and school authority positions as careless people. Teenagers are viewing “13 Reasons Why” at a young age and what they believe can be greatly impacted by the media. Seeing as how Hannah Baker turned to her school counselor to help, and he did absolutely nothing portrays that real counselors could do the same. This may lead to teenagers hiding their true feelings from parents and adults. Having no trusting adults is the worst situation possible for teens struggling with mental illnesses.
In addition, the bullying in “13 Reasons Why” lead to a death, as it did in the book The Lord Of The Flies. The show displayed a new type of bullying as well, cyberbullying, which is just as bad as bullying in person. Teens every day are being bullied through social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Both cyberbullying and bullying can lead to a horrific ending. As shown in Lord Of The Flies, Piggy was bullied because he had glasses, was overweight, and had asthma. In chapter 1 of the book, Jack starts to bully Piggy by stating, ‘You’re talking too much…Shut up, Fatty’ (Pg. 21).
This was just the start, but in the end Jack’s friend murders Piggy. The boys who took part in murdering Piggy act like it wasn’t a big deal because Piggy was just a “loser”. Since the boys were on an island alone with no adults, their true nature of evil came out. This is because the boys are masked from real society and consequences. In the show “13 Reasons Why”, Hannah Baker commits suicide due to repetitive comments and taunts by schoolmates. Just like in the book, teens on “13 Reasons Why” were masked behind a computer screen when they were bullying Hannah. Even though the characters died in different ways, bullying leads to a saddening reality of children dying too young.
Suicide has become a widespread problem in our generation today. The show “13 Reasons Why” was supposed to increase awareness and help prevent suicide, but it did just the opposite. Parents and teenagers should be warned about the risks the show can have on one’s state of mind. The content is dark and you never know how certain people will react to it. “13 Reasons Why” had an opportunity to educate and help those struggling or dealing with suicide, instead the show seemed to glorify suicide in many different ways. The topic of suicide is important to shed light on in today’s society, but there are other ways to voice concern without damage.
Akers, Ashley. “13 Reasons Why We Hate 13 Reasons Why.” The Counseling Place, 26 May 2017, http://counselingplace.org/13-reasons-why-we-hate-13-reasons-why/, Accessed 26 September 2018.
“Families Blame ’13 Reasons Why’ for 2 Teens’ Suicides.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 27 June 2017, https://www.foxnews.com/health/families-blame-13-reasons-why-for-2-teens-suicides, Accessed 20 September 2018.
Golding, William. Lord Of The Flies. The Berkley Publishing Company, 1954.
Howard, Jacqueline. “’13 Reasons Why’ Sparks Debate on Teen Suicide.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Apr. 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/health/13-reasons-why-teen-suicide-debate-explainer/index.html, Accessed 24 September 2018.
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