Here's Why Some People Are Against '13 Reasons Why'

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Netflix’s latest binge-worthy hit 13 Reasons Why is the show that everyone’s been talking about.

The show’s protagonist, Hannah, records 13 tapes before she dies to explain her reasoning to the 12 people she felt had a hand in her decision to take her own life.

Her story addresses bullying, abandonment, sexual assault, rape culture, stalking, drunk driving and more, and succeeded in catching the attention of audiences across the world. With graphic scenes of sexual abuse and suicide, it has started an important conversation about suicide and mental health in young people.

Unfortunately, the impact of the show hasn’t been entirely positive. At surface level the show seems to tackle the important topic of young mental health and suicide, and is a shocking reality check for those who hadn’t contemplated the topic – but some claim that upon closer inspection, the show fails to do so in a healthy manner.

Many critics are quick to point out that 13 Reasons Why glorifies revenge suicide, and suggests to bullied teens that the best way to deal with their problems is to use your own death to hurt your bullies.

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While the show is shockingly honest and graphic in its depiction of Hannah’s death, it never actually attempts to look at her mental state or the pain she must have been feeling, instead it focuses entirely on her getting even with those who made her life difficult. Such a show being so popular, especially among teens, could be telling our vulnerable young people that such a response to bullying is acceptable, or worse, the only way out.

Since the show’s popularity peaked, Australia’s youth mental health service Headspace has had a terrifying increase in calls from young people, their parents and even schools.

“People have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made them consider whether suicide is a possible option for them.

We are so concerned about that and we see spikes in suicide when there is unsafe portrayals.”

They were also specifically concerned about the graphic way in which Hannah’s suicide was shown, as they claim that teenagers are most vulnerable to suicide contagion (exposure to suicide via one’s peer group, family or media report which results in an increase in suicidal behaviors).

“That’s a huge driving factor around contagion … people may look at that the method as a real option. If you have seen it, it seems more attainable.”

Writing for Teen Vogue, suicide prevention advocate MollyKate Cline criticised the series for failing to address depression and mental illness, but mostly for not having any of the characters turn to their parents for help.

“If you are experiencing bullying, or feeling depressed or suicidal, the best thing you can do for yourself is to tell somebody. And that’s what I had hoped 13 Reasons Why would focus on instead of a dramatic story line over getting revenge for those 13 people.”

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Singer Zara Larsson tweeted about her dislike of the show, and received a such a negative response from Twitter users that she felt the need to delete her entire backlog of tweets and start her account fresh. Several Twitter users didn’t hesitate to point out the irony of such treatment from those online, regarding a TV show about bullying.

In her now-deleted tweets, Larsson explained that in her opinion ‘it [13 Reasons Why] romanticized revenge suicide and it doesn’t bring up depression or mental illness at all’, and when confronted by fans who criticised her for not understanding the message of the show, she claimed ‘I do understand the message, the show is just not my cup of tea. To unrealistic for me. But that’s just me.’

Singer Lucy Spraggan has also come out against the show for similar reasons, taking to Twitter to rant about the hit show.

And there are several posts from non-famous users urging people to avoid the show also making the rounds on social media

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Images via Netflix / Twitter

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