Teens love it. Parents hate it. So what’s all the fuss about 13 Reasons Why?

With all the hype about 13 Reasons Why, I thought I’d better eyeball the Netflix series. Apart from a loathing of losing our teens to suicide and concerns about sexual violence, I went into the den to watch this with an open mind. So with my feet up on the ottoman, a cuppa in my hand and my cat, Momo for company, I bravely fired up Netflix.

Here’s my take on the TV series taking the world by storm:

  1. 13 Reasons Why is gaining traction with teens because they relate to the content. What’s disturbing: if teens believe the only way to get even is through suicide. An alternative to beating the bullies is to live well. 13 Reasons Why is intended to be a cautionary, tragic tale.
  2. Maybe Hannah Baker didn’t want to die, maybe she just wanted her life to begin. Hannah blamed others for her suicide but the decision to suicide was hers alone.
  3. Do writers (screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers etc) have a moral obligation to not teach kids how to suicide? I reckon they do. Let’s not give our kids a how-to manual on how to end their lives. The final episode graphically depicts how the character Hannah Baker slit her wrists. Preceding the final episode was a trigger warning. However, I don’t believe it was absolutely necessary to show every stage of the suicide. The scene could still have rung as genuine and authentic without viewers needing to see Hannah slit her wrists.
  4. I personally found the protagonist, Hannah Baker not particularly likeable. As such, I found it hard to be emotionally invested in her journey. I did however enjoy the character of Clay Jensen. I bet viewers will remember the wise words of Clay. Clay espouses being kinder and reaching out to people.
  5. Revenge suicide as a concept is seriously flawed. Once a person is dead, they will not see the ramifications of their actions. In fiction, readers suspend disbelief which is in sharp contrast to real life.
  6. Throughout the series, there was no evidence that Hannah Baker had a mental health issue. She was a teen who took an early stage exit. In reality, mental health issues are strongly linked to suicide. Anxiety and depression are treatable, suicide is not.
  7. We live in a self-centric society. It is unlikely that teens’ peers will mourn for an extended period of time. Maybe I’m jaded, but the latest song, concert, fashion line will soon push mourning to the backseat. Life has a habit of reasserting itself. Suicide does not make you a hero or the main protagonist of a TV show.
  8. My pet hate is the mistaken belief in an afterwards with suicide. Let me say this clearly, there is no afterwards with suicide. Teens will not be around to see their master plans unfold and most likely, all their plans for revenge will go pear-shaped.
  9. The 10th anniversary edition of the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher has a revamped cover and additional content from the TV series.
  10. Netflix has announced a season two of 13 Reasons Why. This series isn’t going away.
  11. Rather than censure teens, why not view the show as an opportunity to bond? Opening up discussions with teens is a positive move. If your teens want to watch the series, take the opportunity to watch it with them.
  12. Beyond 13 Reasons Why is a 30-minute behind-the-scenes special. The producers and actors gave their reasons for why they made the show and the hopes they have for discussion in this area. If your teen is watching the series, encourage them to watch this episode as well.
  13. If you are considering suicide, please seek immediate assistance.

Headspace 1800 650 890

Lifeline Australia 13 11 44

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636