Did Netlix’s 13 Reasons Why Glorify Teen Suicide?


Based off of the popular book by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why became a TV series adaptation, produced by Selena Gomez during the spring of 2017. While season two for Netflix’s hit series is currently underway, there still remains controversy that will surely be discussed again by the time the new season airs in 2018.

The series begins with a mysterious box of cassette tapes that are found on Clay Jenson’s front porch, which consisted of 13 voice-recordings of Hannah Baker giving reasons as to why she committed suicide. Those who were a reason for her death each received the box of cassette tapes, and once they finished listening, they passed it onto the next person who played a part in her death.

13 Reasons Why walked a fine line when tackling serious topics such as rape, depression, and suicide. The problem that people see with this series is that it utilizes suicide as a means of revenge in response to all of the hardships and bullying that Hannah Baker faced. The story of Hannah’s death could easily be portrayed as an impractical mystery to solve, rather than the tragic suicide of a 17 year old girl. There is a fear among people that teens may get the wrong message from the show: that suicide is a just option.

According to ABC News, two California families blame their teens’ suicides on the series because it triggered suicidal behavior. It was even recommended that today’s “vulnerable youth” not watch the series by the National Association of School Psychologists. Since then, Netflix provided more warnings throughout the series – especially the episode that consists of Hannah’s graphic suicide.

In the novel, Hannah killed herself by swallowing a whole bottle of pills; but, in the TV series, she slits her wrists and bleeds to death in the bathtub, making it entirely excruciating for the viewer to watch. Executive producer and script writer Brian Yorkley said in the series’s documentary Behind the Reasons that he included this stomach-wrenching scene in order to display how agonizing and horrific suicide truly is.

Evidently, the target audience is those who don’t understand depression and suicide; not those who are suicidal. They debated for a long time on whether or not to show this scene, as they were advised not to by mental health professionals.

However, how many series really tackle these topics at all? Not enough. Perhaps they could’ve made slightly different approaches in displaying that Hannah’s death was ultimately her own choice, but it is noble of Netflix take the first step forward in addressing these issues. Often times, these issues are swept under the rug, yet 13 Reasons Why was successful in creating awareness of the impact that you can make on another person’s life.

It created a discussion among people, and ultimately, that’s the purpose of the show.

If you or someone you know are in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.