Why Mental Health Experts Say Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” Is Dangerous to Watch
Netflix’s new original series has taken the world by storm and it is not just because it is entertaining, it is also because it represents conflicting ideas. “13 Reasons Why” deals with teenage suicide, a topic that is mostly taboo until now. While it has been lauded for raising awareness on this overlooked issue, some experts say that you should reconsider your plans to binge watch this new Netflix hit. Here are some reasons why.
Justice Through Death?
The series is focused on events following the death of Hannah Baker, an ordinary teenage girl who committed suicide. While this pops the big “why” question, viewers slowly learn more about her as the show progresses. She left behind 13 audiotapes for 13 friends who took turns listening to them as the reasons for her suicide are unveiled. A lot of things had been done to her, some of them horrible while some of them pretty mild. While justice may or may not be served, the problem with this show is that it says that such could be achieved in death.
It is quite unsettling to note that a teenage girl’s suicide can be the catalyst for justice. As a whole, this series sends the message that if your voice goes unheard, your suicide can serve as an amplifier and this will make sure that you will leave your mark.
Not Anybody’s Fault
While Hannah went through a lot in her teenage years, almost everyone surrounding her had a part in her suicide. Whether it was her love interest, family issues, academic problems or keeping up with the struggles of teen life, surely there was something in every element to blame. However, mental health experts are quick to refute this generalization. The real deal here is that there was only one person who was responsible for Hannah’s death — and it was just her.
No matter how horrible her experiences were, it was only her who had control whether or not she would continue living. This show somehow sends the message that people should regret what they did to Hannah and that her death was their fault. Experts say that only she — alone — was responsible for her death.
Suicide is Not Revenge
Some critics say this show does not even dig deep into mental health issues and it just portrays suicide as the catalyst for a revenge fantasy gone horribly wrong. This could have been a nuanced exploration of things that go through people’s heads when they decide to kill themselves. However, the series becomes a simplistic blame game that reinforces the incorrect idea that revenge is best served when you kill yourself.
You Were Not Right All Along
When Hannah takes her life, everyone in town misses her. Whether they were those bullies or those people who barely even interacted with her, suddenly people had a reason to mourn. While this looks sweet, it also sends the message that Hannah had been right all along. It also reinforces the idea that the best route to drive this point through would be to take her life. This is a myopic and utterly unrealistic portrayal of what goes on in a community when somebody commits suicide.
It Actually Could Increase the Rate of Suicide
The show’s producers might think that their thoughts are noble in making a show that zooms in on teenage depression and suicide. However, multiple studies show that it could gratify suicide can actually increase its occurrence.
Experts say that children and teens get exposed to things like contagion and are at high risk when they see another person take his or her own life. This is why most censorship bodies have a whole range of guidelines that are psychologically anchored. However, these are not applied to online platforms like Netflix.
Netflix has been loved for all the great shows that it has produced. Still, one should take caution and insist on adult supervision when it comes to this new show. “13 Reasons Why” might be praised for its bold depiction of a topic that is not discussed in most other popular media. But, as some mental health experts say, it does not send the right and supportive message in the best way.
Have you seen the show? What do you think about it and its possible effects? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.
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