There was plenty of debate after the first season of 13 Reasons Why, but there should have never been a season two.
13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based around a teenage girl dies by suicide. She leaves 13 tapes for her classmates to listen to with each tape explaining how one particular person impacted her life, and worsened her depression. The series is meant to be a brave and honest telling of mental illness in young people. Instead, it’s a dangerous and triggering series that didn’t take anywhere near as much caution or sensitivity as it should have.
For starters, the idea of leaving tapes in order to make people feel guilty for driving one to attempt suicide is incredibly rare. It’s unheard of because when a person is in a suicidal state, they aren’t thinking about how to damage those they leave behind. If that was their way of thinking, they’d know the root of the issue, which means they’d at least be able to look into ways of trying to seek support around it. Suicide letters often talk about how the person isn’t good enough themselves, and they don’t see a way they can live on this planet any more. They feel hopeless and almost as if the people around them would be better off without them. They do not leave a trail of tapes guilt-tripping everyone they’ve come into contact with.
Secondly, if a teenager suffering from some form of depression watches this series, it could prove to be extremely triggering. In fact, the mental health charity, ‘Headspace’ even warned people against watching it.
“If a teenager suffering from some form of depression watches this series, it could prove to be extremely triggering”
The series screams of no or little education or experience in the matter. It’s very possible that plenty of people involved in the making of this show have suffered with some sort of mental illness. But, the way in which the series has been made seems to show a lack of understanding around such sensitive topics.
There is also an element of responsibility that is missing. To show the suicide scene in such a graphic manner can be triggering, to the point that it can implant ideas around suicide and risk people copying the action. It could also severely trigger anyone who has ever felt suicidal or attempted it themselves.
The simple answer would be to just not watch the series if you’re mentally ill. But that’s a ridiculous notion with anxiety and depression in teenagers on the rise. Teenagers are using self harm as a coping mechanism, they worry they won’t be taken seriously because they’re constantly told they have it easy and they’re spoiled by older generations, and so suffer in silence. Shows like this are dangerous.
Tackling mental illness in a brave and honest manner is of course something that is necessary, but this isn’t the right way to do it. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second season has already garnered more controversy around how it’s depicted other sensitive topics, such as sexual assault.
Netflix has got things right much more often than it’s got things wrong, but this time, Netflix has got it so God damn wrong. Listen to the mental health charities warning people against watching this show, do your research, and react to what people are saying. The show should have never aired in the first place, but it did. It’s utterly irresponsible and dangerous to air a second season too.
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