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The infamous show that depicts suicide, depression, a school shooting, bullying, sexual assault, addiction to drugs and alcohol, is well known as 13 Reasons Why, and should be watched by all, especially teens. Season one of 13 Reasons Why was released on March 31st, 2017, a season which revolved around a seventeen-year-old high school student, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide and how she affected those she left behind. Clay Jensen, a fellow high school student along with Hannah Baker, a friend, was most affected by Hannah Baker’s death, given she’d left a box of cassette tapes to be heard by him and a few others, thirteen tapes for the thirteen reasons she decided to leave this world. 13 Reasons Why should be watched by all because it sparks healthy conversation, educates what schools may lack in educating, and more.
To start, while 13 Reasons Why had many triggering scenes, it manages to do an outstanding job at spreading awareness of such struggles expressed in the show. At the ending of every episode, a small piece of writing appeared on the screen stating, “If you or anyone you know needs help finding support or crisis resources, please go to 13reasonswhy.info – and to hear more from the cast, watch Beyond the Reasons, available in Trailers & More”. By providing and sharing this message with the viewers, people, especially those who suffer from mental illnesses, can become familiar with different resources that can be used to receive help and guidance. Even with various amounts of triggering scenes, like the moment when Hannah Baker committed suicide, the overall awareness and resources provided by the show allow for the viewer to obtain a better understanding of mental illness. The triggering scenes in the show allowed for a raise in concerns in viewers who have suffered from similar issues. David Barker of “NewStatesman” declares, “They (the Samaritans) stated that much of the show’s content might well be triggering, especially for those who have experience dealing with self-harm” (Barker). As a viewer, when watching a character go through the same emotionally draining feelings you may have felt, it can be very dangerous towards yourself because it can make you feel like you are reliving them.
A quote from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention claims, “Suicide rates have increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades” (Scutti). This colossal jump is concerning and reiterates the fact that awareness should be brought upon teens, especially to stop such terrible tragedies like self-harm. Most people find it uncomfortable and struggle to talk about suicide. In the same article from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention it states that, “studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the national suicide hotline”. It is most important to know your options, to have someone to confide in and trust.
While some fanatics of the show find the series a great conversation starter, others believe that the show sends a negative message, especially about adults. Catherine Louis of “The New York Times” describes season one, episode thirteen:
“Hours before her death, Hannah goes to see the school counselor, hints that a senior assaulted her, and cryptically says, her eyes welling with tears, that “I need everything to stop, people, life.” He hands her tissues, but doesn’t conduct a suicide-risk assessment or consider hospitalization.
“That was gross negligence,” Dr. Miller said, and it sends “a dangerous message” that adults don’t care” (Louis).
When adults view this scene, it provides a visual (traumatizing) example of a teenager silently screaming for help, but was unheard. It allows for parents to see how to react right away to life-threatening situations by showing them what clear signals to pay attention to when talking to someone who might be struggling. Thanks to 13 Reasons Why many parents were able to have an open discussion about self-harm between them and their children which creates a healthy relationship. A psychotherapist who specialized in trauma, Emily Ryzuk, was quoted saying:
“And for parents, she said, just being next to your kid for the duration of an episode puts you in a perfect position to start talking. ‘A parent can gauge the child’s curiosity, or even prior exposure, to similar vignettes,’ she said. ‘This experience can open up conversations with children and allow them the opportunity to ask clarifying questions or even self-disclose — giving a rare opportunity for the parent to engage and intervene if necessary”.
On another note, not allowing your kids to watch 13 Reasons Why will only want to make them look more into it. “Refusing to let you kid watch 13 Reasons why might deter them from seeing it or it might simply ensure that when they do watch it, they do so without ever telling or talking about how it made them feel”. Simply, prohibiting children and teenagers from doing something, especially like watching this show, might come back to hurt you. Now you have an angsty teenager pent up with all these feelings and emotions with no outlet to get it off their chest. On the contrary, a mom blogger states, “This is heavy explicit that I hate my kid has the resources to learn about at such a young age… DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS WATCH 13 REASONS WHY”. Because us teenagers are in a generation which entails the lack of diligent parental knowledge in the use of technology, they don’t realize that we find a way to use every resource out there on the internet to learn about things that may not be taught to us.
Many viewers argue that the show, 13 Reasons Why, ‘glamorizes’ suicide. Many viewers were also concerned that given the show is Netflix series it will not be taken as such a serious and important topic. Katherine Rosman, writer for “The New York Times” states, “But it also alarmed parents, mental health care professionals and school administrators who worried that the show glamorized suicide without providing meaningful context or relevant information for young viewers”. Elseways, there is absolutely nothing glamorous about watching a teenage girl open a new pack of razors and take a deep breath as she slits her wrists open. Likewise, there is nothing glamorous about watching someone bleed out in their own bathtub. Last but not least, there is nothing glamorous about watching ones parents find their child’s body comatose and hearing their agonizing screams once they discover their daughter has taken away her own life. 13 Reasons Why simply does not glamorize suicide.
The series 13 Reasons Why does not shy away from the topics most people have a challenging time expressing. With a walk through of Hannah Baker’s life, viewers can finally have a better understanding of the emotional toll mental illness bears on someone’s life. When one can see the causes and effects suicide has on the people that love them the most it will push people to get the help they need. Since the series was able to touch upon many different areas and types of mental issues, it was a very popular topic among young teens and adults. 13 Reasons Why should be watched by everyone because it gets people familiar with unfortunate issues that happen to be very common. A lot of parents and their children have watched the series together so that everyone all around can get educated with these real-life problems. The series sets up the perfect scenario in which teens and parents can have open conversations about issues that have been bothering them. For some people, talking to peers about such personal information can be difficult and scary. 13 Reasons Why provides a website that viewers who suffer from mental illness can visit and learn how to get help. Everyone is able to get the help they need by spreading awareness. Everyone deserves to be happy and 13 Reason Why gives the people that struggle, that go unnoticed, a chance to get help, to learn that everything can get better, and to be happy.
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