My Unpopular Opinion of 13 Reasons Why
May 5, 2017
Suicide is very difficult topic to inform people correctly about without being overly dramatic or including sensationalism. Netflix original series, and novel, 13 Reasons Why is a perfect example of a serious issue turned into a sensationalist show.
13 Reasons Why is based on 12 high school characters that all contributed to one of their classmates, Hannah Baker, committing suicide. Before Hannah took her life, she created 13 cassette tapes, each describing a reason why she committed suicide. In the cassette tapes she talks of times where she experienced sexual harassment, slut shaming, rumors, and rape that she portrayed as the ultimate reason she decided to take her life. Each tape was attributed to one of the classmates that these tapes were delivered to.
While this show does raise awareness for serious issues that teens face everyday, it felt very fabricated. Instead of focusing on the mental illness aspect of suicide, Hannah just exposes the actions of those around her that lead to her ultimate choice, making them feel guilty. Bullying can definitely contribute to the decision of suicide, but it is not a direct cause. Bullying is easy to blame suicide on, but the nature of mental illness is the actual cause. This show raises awareness for things that we have been warned about since we were young. It would have been nice to have watched a series that raises awareness of mental health issues that people all around us experience without us ever knowing. It just seemed this show focused more on other issues teens face, rather than the shows main purpose, suicide. I do not recall the show ever mentioning the word “depression”, which you think would be a main concern when talking about suicide.
The realism of the suicide scene, towards the end of the series, is enough to take your breath away. There was no distractions from what was going on. It seemed like the camera never left her wrists. This part really showed the most hideous part of mental illness. I understand that the producers knew this part would really get to the shows’ viewers, but I am not sure if watching a teen slit her wrists was an effective way to raise suicide awareness.
The show definitely made its viewers aware of serious issues that 21st century teens go through. I was just very disappointed that the producers focused on other issues rather than mental health and how it directly contributes to suicides.