Thirteen Reasons Why Controversy

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Thirteen Reasons Why Controversy

Aj Figureoa and Sarah Kaplan

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The topic of mental illness is becoming a subject of controversy, especially in the media. Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why’ addresses the topic of suicide and mental illness. Mental Health experts fear that this show glorifies mental illness and suicide and could have some negative consequences. Media coverage by any type of organization have simple guidelines to follow when showing depictions of suicide or self harm.
You may not think much of this, but some people who suffer from suicidal thoughts or mental illness can really be affected by graphic scenes or depictions of suicide. Although this series was created to be entertainment and portray mental illness through suicide, there are some aspects that could cause more harm than good. The imagery and actions that this show includes, like Hannah’s suicide scene, could be considered harmful for teens that experience suicidal thoughts. The entire premise that someone else’s actions are a cause of a suicide is completely unhealthy, as there is almost always an underlying mental illness or internal reason for a person to do this. Hannah’s reasoning for her suicide was the actions of others. The show failed to mention the words mental illness in the entire series, even though that was the basis of the book.
Young audiences who have never been exposed to the dangers behind mental illness are often most likely to misinterpret it based on what they want to see. The idea of using the tapes as some form of revenge is not likely to occur in the mind of those with suicidal tendencies. While it has received overwhelmingly positive audience feedback, psychology and mental health professionals have negative opinions toward the show. Many psychologists believe that the series gives the impression that there is no help and that suicide is effective and gives a false message to people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Guidance counselor Ms. Sze spoke about 13 Reasons Why:“ I think that the message is very negative due to the fact that it doesn’t give alternative ways to deal with depression, suicidal thoughts, and anger.” The main character gained power through suicide and that’s a dangerous message. The series expresses that if your voice is unheard in life that it will definitely be heard after you’re no longer on the earth. It seems to be like we care more about a person when they’re gone rather than when they’re alive. Junior , Demaris Eckerson , felt very strongly about the show, “I thought it was very good but I didn’t like the fact that they showed her suicide at all. I think it definitely could be a trigger to other people because someone might think that what has been done to Hannah is a reason for them to kill themselves. I think that her blaming people for her suicide was really selfish and unfair because it leaves people with guilt forever. The show made suicide seem like it was not really a big deal at all and how the school and the kids dealt with the tapes was terrible.”
Suicide and suicidal thoughts are much more common than you think. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. More than 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year. A sophomore Gabby Martino, said, “I thought that some of the reasons on the tapes were unnecessary and unfair, because they are really not that big of a deal. I don’t think some people were really to blame for her death, and now that they were part of the tapes, they have to live with the blame and guilt forever, and everyone else on the tapes would probably think less of them and blame them as well.”
Regardless of your opinion of the show, it has brought to light this very serious issue. Note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or considering self harm, please call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741741. It is free, confidential and is open 24/7. Or seek help from the WVHS guidence department. You are not in this alone.

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