By Emily Love
According to The Parent Resource Program, the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10-24 is suicide. More teenages and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, AIDS, heart disease, birth defects, strokes, and pneumonia combined. Keeping these statistics in mind, 75% of the viewers of the recent TV show, 13 Reasons Why, were the ages of 34 or younger. This new Netflix original show came out March 2017 and was what everyone was talking about for months after. It was the topic of conversation in schools, work, between friends and family. However, was the conversation all good? Did everyone enjoy the show like producers were expecting? Were some parents not allowing their children to watch it? Did this show have negative effects on anymore? Did certain individuals think some overreacted about the overall topic of the show?
13 Reasons Why originally started off as a book written by Jay Asher. Ten years later, Selena Gomez partnered with Netflix to produce the show based off the book. However, the main focus will be about Season One because that is where the overall plot line is shown. Spoiler alert: Hannah Baker is the main character and is the one who commits suicide on the final episode. She does not leave the stereotypically suicide note, she does something a little different. Before she killed herself, she recorded 13 tapes for 13 different reasons to why she killed herself. Each tape is addressed to a different person because they all have an influence to why she wanted to end her life. Hannah’s friend Tony is the one who sent the first tape to the first listener and from there, they had to pass the tapes to the next name. Even though each tape represented one reason for a specific person, everyone had to listen to each tape. So, all 13 people knew each reason to why Hannah killed herself. The other man character in the show is Clay Jeggings. The show is in Clay’s perspective and is the only character where the viewers can see him listening to all of the tapes. Clay’s tape is number twelve in the series, so he has to pass all seven tapes, two stories to each tape except the 13th, to the last and final person, Mr. Porter. Some examples as to why Hannah killed herself was getting raped by Bryce, her best friend Jessica being an alcoholic, her long time crush sending out a sexual picture of Hannah, Tyler stalking her every move, and the main reason of nobody realizing the stuff Hannah has been going through. Clay’s tape was Hannah saying sorry to him for what she does and that she wished he would have admitted his feelings for her because that possibly could have saved her life. Clay, after hearing his tape, has to now live with the guilt of Hannah’s death. Each episode is reliving the flashback of why each tape happened, while Hannah’s voice of that specific tape is in the background. However, the last and final tape is Hannah committing suicide and her mother finding her body. There were two very different views on this show, the first being negative and the second only being viewed as binge worthy.
When suicide is being talked about, almost always prevention is the main focus of the conversation. Different ways to talk to someone about how they are feeling, phone numbers of people to contact, signs when someone could show when they are thinking of taking their own life, anything along these lines. However, this show basically did the opposite. Instead of showing prevention, it gave individuals thoughts and reasons to want to kill themselves. This could have been for any personal reasons or how they viewed themselves to the world. However, Hannah could have given them more examples to this thought. Realizing Hannah had nobody to talk to about what she was going through, they could relate to what was happening in her life to their own. According to a Fox News article, two families in California blame 13 Reasons Why to why their teens committed suicide. Bella Herndon and Priscilla Chui both ended their lives a few days after watching this show and they were four days apart. These two teenagers did not know each other, but both parents agreed 13 Reasons Why was a trigger in their daughters head to end their lives. Critics of this show claimed, “it glamorizes suicide and focuses too much on the reasons why Hannah Baker ended her life.” However, I personally disagree with these accused acquisitions because a show is not a determining factor over an individual’s life. If these two teenagers committed suicide days after the show was released, I think that was just a coincidence. TeacherVision states every two hours and eleven minutes, there is a teen that will commit suicide. Are all these teenagers taking their own life because of 13 Reasons Why? Not all of these teenagers have watched every episode of the show, however many of them have heard the name of the show come up in a conversation or least know what the show is about. On the last episode, all the viewers actually watch Hannah Baker sit in the bathtub, slit her wrists with a razor, and stay in their till she bleeds out. As she is laying in a pool of her own blood, her mother comes in, only to find her daughter no longer having a heart beat. I know for me, that scene was horrible to watch and was very emotional. To think this happens in the real world broke my heart for the families that are a victims of suicide.
When I am deciding to start a new TV series, I do not base it off my life, I just want to watch it for enjoyment. Most TV shows are not based on life people’s life, they are produced simply for the viewer’s liking. Scandal is a show where the main character’s, Olivia Pope, job title is a fixer who spines the truth for politicians when they do something that will be frowned upon by the public. How to Get Away With Murder is a fictional show where throughout the seasons, the storyline displays ways on how to cover up a murder. Both of these shows could happen in real life, but they normally do not because people know it is unrealistic to base their life choices off a TV show. 13 Reasons Why is just like these shows, it was not made for viewers to relate, just a made up plot line. Jay Asher did not write this book on his own life or anyone’s that he knew, it is not a true story. He simply just wanted to inform viewers of actual scenarios in the real world. Suicide is not a made up topic, it happens everyday, except it normally does not happen like Hannah Baker’s. Hannah needed a plot to go along with her suicide or it would have been a one-two episode show. The thirteen reasons behind her death told the story, which brought the show to life. Season One was simply about a girl’s unfortunate, depressing life and why it came to that point. A recent movie was just released called Peppermint. It is about a wife getting revenge on the killer and who else was involved in the killing of her husband and daughter. Now, this movie could be relatable in real life; however, not every victim of a crime similar to this is going to be going around murdering individuals. Isn’t 13 Reasons Why very similar to these two shows? This show is not responsible for being a reason why a teenager or young adult ended their life. When something bad happens in the world, is not one of the first actions to take is the find the reason behind it or to blame someone or something for the outcome. Siblings love to blame the other for something they caused because they do not want to be the one to get in trouble for it. A mistake happens at work, coworkers blame each other so they will not get punished for the negative outcome. It is unfair for viewers of 13 Reasons Why to blame this show on a person committing suicide. When the overall main purpose of this show was to simply, like any other, to tell a story.
As mentioned before, season one of 13 Reasons Why was on everyone’s mind when it was first released. It was so talked about for many different reasons. Some being positive, since it was an enjoyable show that people had to find out the ending to. I know I binged watched this show within a week because I was so eager to find out all thirteen reasons, even though I already knew what the outcome was. While others viewed this show negatively because of the horrific details and main storyline. It is the way you want to view the show, however teen suicide will always been a main concern and the problem is not going to be solved anytime soon. So, what is the harm in bringing everyone in this world aware to the topic?