By Molly Merson
News & Features Editor
The 2007 novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher has recently been popularized by becoming a new Netflix series co-produced by Selena Gomez. It has grabbed social media’s attention along with many adolescents that are fans of the story. The show features teenager Hannah Baker’s story and struggles throughout high school. It revolves around Hannah’s experience with bullying and her eventual suicide. The story includes the thirteen reasons why Hannah completed suicide, hence the title “Thirteen Reasons Why”.
The story sounds a bit dark upon first glance, but many teenagers have been moved by Hannah’s experience. Whether that is a positive or negative emotional impact is up for debate. According to an article published by the New York Times, superintendents and school counselors have been concerned that the show glorifies the idea of suicide and could cause an increase in such behavior among vulnerable students. This is my take on the thirteen reasons why the tv series could be harmful and/or controversial.
1) Some scenes displayed during certain episodes feature graphic situations involving self harm, sexual abuse, and suicide.
2) Ninety percent of those who complete suicide have some sort of mental illness. None of the episodes have any mentioning of mental health or any sort of mental illness. Thus, drawing attention away from how Hannah was feeling and more towards the action she ended up completing.
3) Hannah was shown to have killed herself in order to get back at those who hurt her, which is a controversial mindframe being displayed to viewers.
4) Many loose ends remained as the show came to a close, leaving viewers with Hannah’s suicide as the final image in their minds.
5) The show displayed several unrealistic scenarios such as a counselor turning Hannah’s cry for help away. It leaves the viewer asking “Would a school counselor really react this way?”
6) The use of thirteen tapes directed towards thirteen people that contributed to her death makes it seem as though those people are the direct cause of her suffering. Although Hannah was bullied and harassed, the blame should not solely be left on those that surrounded her. This is not an effective method to get one’s point across.
7) The reason why the main character Clay is listed on the tapes is because he could not offer her a relationship. However, would this have saved Hannah? The underlying message makes it seem as though love could have stopped Hannah from completing suicide.
8) The phrase said at the start of the episodes, “Welcome to your tape” has become a new joke among some who have watched the show. For example, if something was said that upset you, a joking response today would be “Welcome to your tape.” This is taking away the seriousness of the situation and turning it into a joke.
9) The cassette tapes were kept a secret while being passed along by all of the characters. Is it realistic to believe that among the eleven students shown, not a single one spoke out about it to a teacher or adult?
10) The parents of Hannah Baker did not mention noticing all of the warning signs she displayed, such as cutting her hair dramatically and seeming withdrawn from friends.
11) None of the incidents of sexual abuse were reported by those involved.
12) In the series, certain character roles were altered in order to intensify the plotline. For example, Tony was seen as a vital character on the tapes in the series. However, in the book, he was seen only as a friend of Clay’s.
13) The National School of Psychologists has released a warning for students and families regarding the viewing of the show.
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