Trigger Warning: In the post, there is talk about self harm, suicide, and rape. Please use precaution before continuing.
Right now, it seems like I can’t go ten minutes without seeing something about 13 Reasons Why. Even boys in my journalism class were raving about it. However, I felt quite uneasy about the show from the beginning. The day after it was released, I saw a post on Twitter with all the triggers for each episode.
*These Pictures Are Not My Own I Just Had Them Saved to My Laptop, and I Can’t Find The Original Tweet*.
I read 13 Reasons Why when I was in eighth grade. I must admit that I understand a good amount of the book. Looking back, though, I’m starting to realize how much I either lost from my memory over time or what went right over my head. Regardless, I was still really impacted by the novel. For this reason, I was quite excited about the adaption to a Netflix series.
Now that you know my history with the book, I’d like to take a minute to examine some information about suicide and entertainment.
- “Prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide are more likely to lead to imitative behaviors than more subtle presentations.”
- “Detailed discussion of the method used in a given completed or attempted suicide should be avoided, because a step-by-step description may prompt vulnerable people to copy the act. For example, in reporting an overdose, it would be unwise to detail the nature, quantity, or combination of drugs taken, or how they were procured.”
Yes, 13 Reasons Why is an important story. Suicide is a topic that needs to be talked about; we need to be able to have discussions about it and give people the help they need. Suicide is one of the top five causes of death for teens between the ages of 15-19. It needs to be discussed.
However, having a T.V. show where graphic scenes are showed on screen can be incredibly harmful. They can trigger people who have had past experiences with self-harm and suicide. They can encourage people who struggle with it to continue with their harmful habits.
“BUT,” they say. “IT’S MADE SO MANY PEOPLE AWARE OF THEIR ACTIONS AND ALERTED PEOPLE TO SUICIDE AWARENESS!!!”
Not to play devil’s advocate, but it is true that shows that have themes of suicide and mental health can cause people to become more aware of it in their daily lives. However, I’ve noticed that this awareness is short-lived. It will last for a little bit, but it won’t has a lasting impact like we wish it would. Eventually, people will forget. New forms of entertainment will be the latest trend, and 13 Reasons Why will be left in the dust along with its intended message.
One argument in favor of the graphic nature of the show is this: in the beginning of the very graphic episodes, there are disclaimers. Here’s the thing: whether or not you put disclaimers at the beginning of the episodes doesn’t really make up for the fact that you are unknowingly helping people do the very thing you’re trying to raise awareness for. Not to mention, numerous psychologists repeat that showing a step-by-step process to self harm or suicide will do more harm than good.
A few days ago, my best friend’s boyfriend remarked: “I just feel like they treat Hannah [the main character] like she’s a college student. She’s a sophomore. Stuff like that doesn’t happen to sophomores.” Newsflash: Things like that do happen to people even younger than sophomores. Rape can happen to anyone. No matter how old they are. Self harm and suicide can affect anyone no matter their age. The themes of 13 Reasons Why are definitely not for the faint hearted. However, the story does need to be told. I do not believe that the adaption of 13 Reasons Why gives the subject matters justice. For that reason, I will not be watching 13 Reasons Why. If you choose to watch it, please take caution before doing so.
If you or anyone you know is affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts, please reach out. Here are hotlines and websites you can reach out to:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text “Start” to 741-741
- Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386.
- Another Thank You to My Friend Kaylin for Helping Me Edit This Post
Leave your opinions/comments about 13 Reasons Why in the comments!