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’13 Reasons Why’ – A Show About Suicide?

’13 Reasons Why’ is a show about suicide, or is it? This question has large loomed over our heads. Although viewers have watched it with continued zest and zeal, even Season 2 despite Season 1 came under fire about “glorifying death”.

There are those who favor the show and then there are those who bash the show. Not uncommon for a show that deals with such a sensitive subject.

So what’s the show about then, if not suicide? We’ll come to that a little later, but first, let us find out why the show is abuzz with (well, say for all the wrong reasons).

According to a study, schools have lately filed reports claiming that students who watched the show are developing suicidal tendencies. They have even gone to lengths stating that students are inflicting self-harm.

Now the show has constantly given disclaimers with respect to episodes which may have had disturbing content, yet the rate of suicidal behavior seems to be on the rise.

Mental health organizations have also expressed their concern over the way show is handled and that it’s affecting teens globally.

Was This Expected?

This news has taken the world by storm. Many experts knew beforehand even before this story broke, of what was going to happen once the show went live. The study further cemented these claims. The show since has had its fair share of criticism for its depiction of sexual assault and suicide.

Although the youth is sensible enough to differentiate between the ‘reel’ life and real life but due to its compelling storytelling, the youth feels drawn and engrossed in the experience which may have led to an increase in suicides. You can say, the filmmakers’ tried their best to convey a message, only that it terribly backfired (it seems).

Statistics That Speaks Volumes

The study which was carried out made up of 43 kids, half of them were found to have watched the show just once and 40% of the participants in the survey watched the entire series. Out of which 84% stated that they had watched it all by themselves.

Further, the study concluded that 80% of the kids later discussed it with their friends and an even smaller number with their parents or a guardian. Naturally, those who watched it alone expressed a risk of leaning towards suicide (to an extent) and identified themselves strongly with what Hannah – the lead character (of Season 1) went through.

No surprise there because Hannah’s character is easy to relate who have experienced sexual assault and battled anxiety. For most of today’s youth, it’s relatable, which is, by the way, a sad state of affairs.

Could There Be A Lawsuit?

In matters like these, there is always a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. Selena Gomez who happens to be the executive producer and has repeatedly defended the show on different occasions has faced harsh criticism alongside Netflix in the past.

Since the suicide of a one 15-year old Bella Herdon – a “direct” victim of the series,  her father has demanded that Selena Gomez distance herself from the TV series or else. Even called out Netflix by calling the streaming platform as hypocritical.

We feel the pain and it is completely normal how the father of a deceased teenage daughter might react under such circumstances.

Bella is one of the two teenagers who committed suicide. Teen Vogue magazine decided to reach out four teens who happened to have dodged the suicide and among them, one attributed it to the series. She had this to say:


In Walks Gomez

As stated, Selena Gomez has previously defended the show and has made the case by highlighting her own struggles and fight with depression. She believes that kids are more understanding than some of their parents when it comes to dealing with issues of anxiety and depression.

The Study Says The Show Has Failed To Make Its Mark

The show may have had the right intent but it is JUST NOT registering with the teens or their parents (for that matter) which the showrunners may have hoped for. If the idea was for the kids and the parents to sit together and talk and sort issues instead of dealing with them all by themselves. From the looks of it, it’s clearly not happening.

That is not to say parents are not ready to hear their kids out or that kids are shying away from discussing it with their parents (exceptions aside). Just that, in this regard, the show has failed, says the study.

Season 3 Is On Its Way

Wow! You must be thinking, after all the hate the two seasons have faced, Netflix must be nuts to even think about giving a go-ahead to the slightest possibility of another season. Well, all we can do is wait and watch how things pan out for Netflix in the future.

Concluding Remarks

Remember we said if the show was about suicide in our opening remarks? We leave it up to you to decide for yourself. At its core, the show is about suicide (you can’t deny it) but still, it all comes down to how you interpret it in your individual capacity.

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