When it comes to the Netflix hit series “13 Reasons Why”, many viewers found themselves on either side of a controversial issue. While many applauded the series for drawing awareness to youth suicide, mental health expert Deborah Serani describes the show as dangerous. Experts believe it poses a health risk to young people already struggling with mental health issues. While the shown has grown to be immensely popular, many consider the show to be worrisome as it uses relatable characters to form a romantic depiction of suicide.
After further reflection, many viewers were left feeling dissatisfied with the message 13 Reasons Why delivered. Ultimately, the show glorified the act of committing suicide through the main character, Hannah Baker. Suicide in 13 Reasons Why is painted in romantic colors and makes suicide sound like an option to turn to when things don’t go well. Hannah Baker is an unlikeable character who seems to have a lot going for her, and her attitude often proved that she wanted the world to revolve around her. She takes her own life to teach certain people a lesson, and leaves tapes in excruciating detail to punish those people even more.
The depiction of Hannah commiting suicide is so vivid with fantastic detail as it shows her plan and preparation. The details are intensely specific, and leaves the viewer with a perfected how-to guide. In addition to a suicide plan being presented, the show is directed towards high school teenagers in similar situations. The story, aside from suicide, includes the ups and downs of highschool, the fun, the dates, the dances and most importantly, the challenges. While the scenarios throughout the show are often relatable, Hannah makes her life problems seem impossible to handle. Hannah’s challenges are often brought upon by her bad decisions. However, instead of the showrunners including life lessons, or how to work through problems, suicide is presented as the only option when challenges overwhelm someone.
After the premiere of “13 Reasons Why” on March 31, 2017, the search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26% and the search “suicide hotline number” increased 21%. Research professor John Ayers of San Diego State University stated, “we do see a variety of suicide-related searches increasing — our worst fears were confirmed, that is, thousands of people, thousands more, are searching online about ways to kill themselves.”
While the Netflix series has multiple issues, the most flawed point the series communicates is that if people life hurt someone, the tragic decision of taking their own life is the most effective way to avoid the problems presented, and return the favor by making those who harassed that person feel awful.