13 Reasons Why; a deep view or glorifying suicide?

  1. I'm sure by now most people have heard the discussions going on about the new Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" based on the novel of the same name. Upon hearing much water cooler discussion, I happened upon watching it myself this past weekend.

    For those unaware (like I was), the series tells the tale of a teen who took her life, but left behind 13 cassette tapes highlighting the reasons why she did so. Each tape features someone in her life that was deciding factor or a force that lead her to make the ultimate decision. It's quite more graphic than the novel and also illustrates the reverberations to each of the people. She left the tapes to a trusted friend along with a list of those on the tapes, and instructed that each one was to receive the tapes, listen to them all, and then pass them to the next person. The trusted friend followed along, and should someone not follow the rules had a second set of tapes and was instructed to make them public.

    This show is being marketed at young teens, and though I am not a parent, I have younger cousins and nieces/nephews. I was very uncomfortable watching the second half of the series, and I found it's portrayals of rape and suicide quite extreme even for Netflix. I would not want someone I care about watching this.

    I was a victim of childhood and teen bullying. It was very difficult. And now I find myself questioning if this show is actually accomplishing it's motives or if it is going to give teens the impression that suicide is a way to be heard?

    What do you think? Has anyone else seen this or heard the discussions? How should we as professionals approach discussions about this topic (I hear that school officials and specialists are approaching the topic with students in high school and college)?
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   Double-Helix
    I’ve heard of the discussion. I won’t be watching the series personally, because I don’t wish to see those graphic depictions that you mentioned, but I’ve read about it. I believe that both opinions are legitimate. Much of how this series is perceived is going to depend on the past and current experiences of the individual. From people who have suffered from depression, suicidal ideation, or self-harm, I’ve heard that the series is dark and graphic enough that it triggers a lot of negative emotion and/or memories that may increase the compulsion to self-harm. There truly seems to be a basis to the idea that the show glorifies suicide, to an extent, although I haven’t heard any confirmed reports that someone has committed suicide as a result of watching the series.

    I also think that for those who watch the series from the perspective of Clay, it can be a powerful look into the effect that your own actions have on other people. It highlights important issues like bullying, LGBTQ conflicts, sexual assault, and could really raise awareness about the ability each of us have to either build up or tear down another person with our words and actions. I really hope that some teenagers and young adults are compelled to change their behavior as a result. I don’t think it’s a series that should be forced on anyone, though, and I see a great potential for people to have very strong positive and negative reactions.
  4. by   Purple_roses
    I have not seen it, but I've talked with people who have read the books and watched the show; I've also read several reviews. There are two groups of people: one group believes that this show glorifies suicide, the other believes that it will make people really think about how they treat others.

    I can't give a dogmatic opinion as I haven't seen it, but from what I've gathered, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits. The benefit is that people will be kinder toward others; the risk is that people struggling with depression and on the verge of suicide will go through with it after seeing how much people will care/talk about their suicide after the fact. Because I struggle with depression, I'll be avoiding it.
  5. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    I've watched it. My opinion is one of someone who has been sexually assaulted and suicidal.

    The parts that made you uncomfortable were meant to make you uncomfortable. That's the point. They didn't want to shy away from things most other shows/movies do. That's the brutality of sexual assault.

    I don't see how it glorified suicide. Was it when Hannah was in the tub slitting her wrists, obviously in pain? Or when her mother found her and was utterly destroyed? There was nothing impressive or sexy about any of it.

    Yes, there was grieving, but most of it was fake - these people didn't care about Hannah, even after all was said and done. No one really missed her but Clay and her parents, maybe Alex. People were, in the end, putting up a front to save themselves.

    I don't know that I can say that I liked the show - it did make me feel things. I think that was the point. I didn't dislike, either.

    At the end of the day, I wasn't triggered at all. But my story and reaction is my own and I wouldn't claim that people can or should feel the same way I did. Because of the subject matter and the sensitivity of the topics, I don't think there is a "right" answer.
  6. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Also, parents willing of course, I DO think teens should see it. It's a great way to broach the topic of bullying (from both sides), consent, suicide, etc.
  7. by   ~Mi Vida Loca~RN
    I read the book years ago, forgot all about it until people kept talking about this show and it sounded so familiar so I had to go back and check my kindle and realized why.

    The biggest problem I see is the people and group it was most hoping to "target" it didn't. They see it as funny, they have said the girl Hannah was too sensitive, the new joke it to tell someone that makes you mad "here's your tape".

    I don't feel it glorifies suicide. I also don't feel the scenes of suicide or rape are too much. They SHOULD make people uncomfortable. Rape and Suicide aren't pretty. I feel it can maybe get people to stop and pause and see that their words have an effect on people. That their actions have an effect on people. I also don't feel that it's teaching people that are being bullied or that have been sexually assaulted that this is the way out. Absolutely it's going to be hard for them to watch as it hits home.

    All that said, I don't quiet see why it got all the hype it did. I didn't dislike it, but I wasn't completely engaged either where I had to hurry and see the next episode. If I remember the book actually kept me more entranced.
  8. by   AN Admin Team
    Thread moved to Nurses/Students Lounge.
  9. by   Suzey
    I watched it because I read the book when it came out about 10 years ago, and I personally think it sends a horrible message that suicide is an effective retaliation to bullying in the sense that 'she showed all of them' for what they did to her. I also hate the fact that not once did the show go deeper into the struggle and sadness of mental health, which in my opinion, is just more of a reason the end result appears to be more of a revenge plot than a loss of hope for Hannah. Unfortunately, it's been renewed for a second season, and I will not be watching it.

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