by Hailey B.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a Netflix series that was released March 31st, 2017. In the show, high schooler Hannah Baker commits suicide. Before, she records thirteen tapes- each tape being a reason why.The Netflix series has been gaining negative attention in the news for the portrayal of suicide. Critics say the show romanticizes suicide, and portrays the tapes as a type of puzzle for the characters to deal with. Instead of grieving over Hannah’s death, they fight with one another over secrets.
Ms. Nemzer, one of the high school’s psychologists, said, “The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), of which I am a member, recommends, and I agree, that not all students view this series.”
“I am not recommending that [the students] do not watch the series, as it surfaces topics that are prevalent in the lives of kids across the country.” said Principal Stephens. “I am asking that you be aware of the concerns that it has raised and that you inform yourselves and talk about this (and/or watch the series) with your respective parent or guardian.”
In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah is bullied, raped, stalked, humiliated, sexually harassed, and isolated. The show does not explain that Hannah may be suffering from depression or another mental illness.
Viewers have pointed out that the show does not offer alternatives to suicide. However, in the final episode Clay makes a point to reconcile with his old friend Skye, who has self- harmed.
Despite trigger warnings shown in the beginning of each episode, viewers say the show was too graphic. The show depicts the suicide of Hannah Baker. Thirteen Reasons Why is rated Mature, but the general demographic is middle schoolers and high schoolers. Ms. Nemzer said, “Research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.”
Ms. Nemzer also disagrees with the portrayal of school counselors. “School-based mental health professionals are a trustworthy source for help and most receive training in suicide risk assessment,” she said.
When asked if she would recommend the show, sophomore Sarah L. said, “Depends on who I’m recommending it to. I feel like it could be a trigger for some people, but it can also be used to teach a lesson to others who are unaware.”
One benefit to the show is that it is stimulating conversation about suicide awareness. Suicide is not a solution, and there are plenty of resources available for students struggling.
Being aware of risk factors and signs of suicide or depression is a good place to start for those who want to help. Suicide is preventable, and people considering suicide usually say or do something that is a warning sign.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
Samaritans Helpline: 1-877-870-HOPE (4673). Call or text.