The Pros and Cons of “13 Reasons Why”


By Allison Donofrio, Staff Writer

Most things in life have their pros and cons, and when pop culture tries to shed light on difficult subjects, it usually comes with both good and bad reactions. While the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has become increasingly popular, it has brought potential problems, as well as potential for educating the public.

Cons

“13 Reasons Why” glamorizes suicide by showing that killing oneself and leaving tape recordings is the only way to successfully show the world a message.

Viewers see main character Hannah Baker as a strong person, only to see her commit suicide on screen. Instead of discussing her problems with her parents, Hannah takes her own life.

The series attempts to simplify suicide, which, in reality, is a very complex issue.

Suicide is not a direct result of bullying or sexual assault, and there may be many reasons someone attempts suicide. The victim could be suffering from a mental illness that they are unaware of, therefore, he or she may not seek proper treatment.

This show tells people who are dealing with mental illness or bullying that suicide is their only option.

It tells victims that they cannot take control of their situation and take steps towards making a change. The series makes bullying seem like a life sentence and an unmanageable problem, which is not accurate. Hannah does not stand up to her bullies at all. Instead, she creates these tapes explaining why she committed suicide after it is too late.

It is demeaning to those who work as school counselors.

In the television series, Hannah tries to talk to her school counselor. Once suicidal risks were present, her school counselor brushed Hannah off and did not offer the proper attention she deserved. This is not only against the law, but should never occur in a real school setting.

As the teenagers in the show are dealing with these serious issues, they do not talk to their parents.

No one in “13 Reasons Why” talks to their parents about what is happening at their school. If any student would’ve came forward about bullying and other issues, a life may have been saved.

Pros

“13 Reasons Why” presents a safe way to discuss suicide.

Suicide can be a difficult subject to discuss with others. This television series opens a pathway for those who struggle with discussing mental illness, bullying, sexual assault, or suicide. Some parents even watch the series with their teenagers and discuss the episodes afterwards. In reality, many teenagers and young adults do tell their parents what is happening in their lives. This Netflix series helps everyone discuss these difficult issues without making it awkward.

It discusses how small actions can have big consequences, and how no action comes without a reaction.

Within several episodes, viewers realize that “the list” brings consequences such as bullying and sexual assault. How could anyone know that a simple list could cause a suicide? No one realizes what someone else is going through, and this series proves that. One comment could upset someone for a few minutes, or it could cause suicidal thoughts. Everyone should be more careful with their words and actions because everything comes back with force. Being extra careful with our words and actions can go a long way.

The series shows that people should treat others with kindness instead of tearing them down through gossip and hurtful comments.

Being kind to someone in need can go a long way. In the novel version of “13 Reasons Why”, Hannah Baker said, “You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.” We should never underestimate the power of words and actions, no matter how big or small that action may seem. As Tim McGraw sings, “always be humble and kind.”

Viewers discuss mental illness, suicidal indication, or family/friend issues to those who won’t judge them.

As a Crisis Counselor, I hear numerous comments how this Netflix series has helped others deal with stress, depression, bullying, sexual assault, or suicidal thoughts. Crisis Text Line has noted that about 3.0% of our conversations have directly mentioned “13 Reasons Why.” In the last 18 days, that’s nearly 1,200 conversations. The Crisis Text Line shows victims that they are not alone, and that they do not have to deal with their issues on their own.

65% of Crisis Text Line users who mentioned “13 Reasons Why” shared something with us that they have never shared with anyone else. The top three issues mentioned by these texters are depression at 33 percent, suicidal indication at 31 percent, and family or friend issues at 17 percent. Peoples’ lives are improving due to this series that came out on March 31, and it shows that every life is worth saving and no one should suffer alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-279-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or text 741741 to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor.

For questions or concerns, comment below or contact Allison Donofrio at allison.donofrio15@mckendree.edu.
Feature Image Via Tumblr.