When I heard 13 Reasons Why was coming out with a second season, I honestly felt nauseous. Last year, I binge-watched 13 Reasons Why to write an article for Rolling Stone (read it here). When the editor initially reached out to me, I told her I’d give her my honest feedback after watching the whole season. And I did: that article went viral, and touched on many topics relating to teens, social media and mental health. As someone who has battled anxiety and depression, I felt like I was my 14-year-old self again after I watched the first few episodes of season 1. At the end of the season, I felt like the show glamorized teen suicide. Instead of showcasing a young girl committing suicide and never coming back, the show focuses on her somehow still being alive when in reality, that’s not what happens when someone commits suicide.
Though Netflix added a disclaimer at the beginning of the season, I think that they aren’t paying enough attention to the repercussions of this show. I would have preferred them to create focus groups, discussions with Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey, and buzz around social media and mental health. Instead, they continue to glamorize the idea of this show. When Season 1 came out, multiple young adults committed suicide after watching Hannah Baker kill herself: because the show doesn’t accurately portray suicide. When you end your life, it’s over, and over for good. One disclaimer isn’t going to stop those young people from harming themselves. I highly advise parents to encourage their kids to either not watch the show, or watch the show and then discuss it at the dinner table or over tea with you. Parents and faculty are the people who truly determine how teens perceive certain topics, and suicide is a heavy one that people shouldn’t learn about alone.
At the core of the show, we see Hannah Baker as an insecure, vulnerable teen who doesn’t have enough support to get her through the rough time she’s dealing with. Many teens can relate to the feeling of sadness and isolation, and unfortunately schools don’t offer many resources to young people to help them battle depression and anxiety. 13 Reasons Why introduced the topic of teen suicide to our society, but doesn’t do anything but glamorize suicide. I spoke with NBC, CNN, CTV, Rolling Stone and more about why I thought 13 Reasons Why glamorized teen suicide early last year. Head to my press page to read and watch what my initial thoughts on the show were, and they haven’t changed for season 2.
“Those who say it’s run its course are missing the point. 13 Reasons Why was never about one girl’s suicide. It’s about endemic problems with society and shining a light on the [issues] young people have to deal with on a daily basis.”