13 Reasons Why This Is All Wrong

Michelle Mirza, Editorials/Two Cents & That's Rad Editor

Suicide is not an option. It is not a rite of passage. It is not something to be executed as an act of revenge. It is not something gruesomely done in order to inflict pain on those who’ve done so to you. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues and has personally experienced the negative perspective of someone who finds themselves in a helpless situation, I did not appreciate the effects the show 13 Reasons Why has had on society’s view towards suicide and depression.

I’d like to make it known that I have not watched the show because I refuse to expose myself to a show that glorifies depression and portrays suicide as some great big scheme to be romanticized. Call out my level of credibility, ignore my seemingly unpopular opinion, but know that what was shown in 13 Reasons Why was not accurate in regards to people who deal with a mental illness on a day-to-day basis.

I understand the message the creators were aiming for, I understand the point of including such graphic scenes, I understand their intention of bringing this taboo topic into conversation; however, they unfortunately executed it in an incredibly poor manner. Instead of discussing the issue of suicide and depression directly and intellectually, they chose to dramatize it and make it part of some plot line in a measly effort to entertain and educate. Mental illness is not a source of entertainment. There is no plot line, there is no conflict-resolution, there is no climax. These are people’s lives we are playing with in an effort to start up a conversation. But how can one expect a nationwide serious conversation to occur when it was already lacking of substance to begin with?

In addition to the poorly executed message, the effects of graphically romanticizing these serious issues have inadvertently caused more harm than good. Young adolescents are taking this portrayal to heart and coping in ways that were showcased throughout the show. People who were on their road to recovery are sitting dangerously close to the edge once again due to the show’s failure to properly warn audiences of the horrifically graphic scenes. Teenagers are yearning for the romanticized tale, clinging onto a false hope for someone to ‘save’ them, to ‘fix’ them, instead of opting for professional help.

The intent was positive, but it was sadly not enough. And instead of spending the time to actually inform society on the detrimental effects of mental illness and bring mental health advocation a step forward, they’ve taken us five steps back. Do better. We as a society can do better, we need to do better — people’s lives depend on it.

If you or someone you know are struggling with a mental illness please contact a hotline or take the step forward to talk to someone, whether that be a school counselor, loved one, or a friend. Get help. There are far more ways to help you cope that are beneficial to not only you, but those around you.

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Adviser Note: As of May 1, Netflix has added additional viewer warnings to episodes of this series.