’13 Reasons’ popular, controversial

'13 Reasons' popular, controversial

Alex Konvalina, Social Media Editor

Netflix original 13 Reasons Why recently fueled a nationwide debate over the portrayal of suicide in the media.

After its March 31 release, people of all ages voiced their opinions on the show, and while some believed it was more harmful than helpful, others thought it brought to light the real issues of today.

“It informs us on what suicide is and why it happens,” sophomore Bryanna Buker said. “People joke about it all the time so it’s good to actually see what leads to it and how doing the smallest things can help or harm someone.”

The series, which was based off of a book by Jay Asher, tells the story of sophomore Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and why she took her own life, as well as the aftermath and how it affects her family and friends, particularly Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette). The show touches on issues such as sexual harassment, bullying, mental health and suicide, but these topics were shown very graphically, an example being the sexual assault scene.

Due to the popularity and controversy of the show, some schools around the country pulled the book from their libraries because of the graphic depictions it presents. They believed that it sent the wrong message, and did not offer help to people going through the same issues.

Opinions of the show seem to differ greatly. A good majority of young adults raved about the show and how it portrayed issues that teenagers go through on a daily basis without the knowledge of adults.

“It helped inform people on how often times people don’t know what’s going in other lives and what’s happened to them; rape, depression etc.,” sophomore Caitlyn Pham said. “[And] how important it is to speak and inform others on these topics.”

Mental health professionals argued that the series showed suicide as a reasonable response to when something goes wrong, but did not give advice on how to get help from adults, an issue that Hannah faced as well, which could lead to devastating effects.

“While the show serves as a conversation starter for mental illness and suicide, it fails to demonstrate the availability of evidence-based mental healthcare,” Dr. Erlanger A. Turner from the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology said.

Directors and producers went against many guidelines provided by professionals and organizations that help prevent suicide, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who advised against watching it. The depiction of some events, such as her taking her own life, the bullying or other graphic scenes could potentially endanger many lives.

“My friends and I thought the show could be potentially dangerous,” sophomore Natalie Davis said. “That others could try and replicate the suicide and the tapes.”

While the show may be a good informant for those who do not understand what some are going through, professionals and viewers advise those who suffer depression or suicidal thoughts to steer clear of the show.

“It helps students and teenagers to know what’s going on, but those who are struggling might be triggered by the graphic scenes and decide to end their own life,” Pham said.

Overall, the show received great reviews from many critics, with a score of 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.7 out of 10 on IMDb.

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