13 Reasons Why: Raising Awareness, or Romanticizing Suicide?

Since it’s debut on Netflix on March 31st, the hit show Thirteen Reasons Why has had a lot of publicity. Created from the 2007 book by Jay Asher, it gives a truthful insight into a teenagers mind while dealing with suicidal thoughts. Following a teenage girl who leaves tapes for thirteen people to listen to, all being reasons for why she committed suicide.

Originally created for suicide awareness, there has been drama surrounding it in recent weeks that instead of being a positive thing, it is instead sending a message to students that it could be a way out. With suicide being the third leading cause of death in ages 10-24, and the graphic show of death, parents and doctors are trying to find ways to possibly lessen that number, even if that means not allowing their child to watch it. Being that mental illness plays into up to 90 percent of suicides as of right now, making it one of the single biggest factors.

Pulled from a statement from the National Association of School Psychologists, they stated, following the shows release, that “exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors.”

They’ve added that “its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”

While there’s been an overwhelming amount of support for the hit show, now doctors are urging for parents to sit down and talk to their child if they do decide to watch it, afraid of the possibility of glamorizing suicide toward teens.

The shows failure to show mental suicide as a possible source for some of the characters suicidal actions is a reason that many adults are encouraging other parents to keep their child away from the show. Netflix research showed that up to 74% of parents watch a show popular with their teenage child to initiate conversation about tough topics, still leaving 26% out in the open.

Though it may be sending the wrong message to teenagers subconsciously, the show is a hit and doesn’t look like it’s being taken off any time soon, newly being renewed for a second season.