If you’ve got a Netflix, Facebook, Twitter or any social media account — chances are you’ve heard about 13 Reasons Why. Starting out as a novel written by Jay Asher, the story line later moved on as a Netflix-only series in an immersive 13 episodes. The novel itself has been well received as a quiet best seller and as an agent in helping to prevent teen suicide and raise awareness about the subject.
Within some of the episodes of the show, a paragraph will show on the screen reading: “The following episode contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing and/or may not be suitable for younger audiences, including graphic depictions of violence and suicide. Viewer discretion is advised.” This paragraph of course, gives a viewer fair warning.
So, here are seven reasons why you should be careful about choosing to watch this show.
- We all know that the number 13 is viewed as unlucky. Triskaidekaphobia is the “extreme superstition regarding the number 13” and it is commonly associated with bad occurrences and bad luck.
- The bullying that goes against one of the protagonists, Hannah Baker, revolves around backstabbing, and the language definitely coincides with the harsh reality of 20th century bullying with the use of obscene photographs and cellphones. The story doesn’t make bullying look good either, but it definitely makes the act of suicide look like the only choice she had.
- One in every three indigenous women has faced or will face sexual assault or harassment—a fact known to many indigenous women. There are graphic scenes in this show that depict this on numerous occasions, but not the repercussions of the decisions made by the antagonist that did them. Although the ending of the show leads us to believe that the antagonist will “get what’s coming to him”, it isn’t shown or displayed in the way Baker’s rape, harassment and suicide scenes were. Viewers are left not knowing if the antagonist is even persecuted for his actions; it’s almost as if he could have gotten away with what he did to Baker.
- Youth within indigenous communities are at a higher risk for suicide; the statistics have already shown that indigenous communities are faced with double the national suicide rate. As well, the triggers found in this show that are associated with bullying, suicide and rape, and the ideas that are put forth by the protagonist offer no possible help to those that have been or are affected by the subject matter. If anything, it might make them feel more alone and isolated.
- The circumstances Baker faces paint the idea that being mindful of your own actions should always be at the forefront of your mind, because you never know what will push someone over the edge. But at the same time this show depicts Baker’s suicide as just—as something that was her only option. Her suicide is glorified.
- Baker’s plan to use the 13 tapes to explain her need to commit suicide is again, handled improperly and immaturely. Just as improperly as Mr. Scott’s situation as a guidance counsellor when Baker comes forward to talk about her problems. This paints the picture that if you are facing problems with suicidal thoughts and you come forward to seek help—that you won’t be helped. Suicide is again glorified as Baker’s only option.
- In the end, nearly all of the “bullies” that tarnished Baker’s reputation, hurt her feelings, broke her spirit and helped to push her to end her life come clean. This gives the impression that because of her voice recorded tapes and her decision, that her death brought justice.
This show in my own and honest opinion, is perfect for mentally and emotionally wholesome people that want to understand the process of suicide. This is a great learning tool for people that want to understand what causes someone to turn to suicide, but in no way would it help someone facing the subject matter as a harsh and true reality. Be aware and be careful.