Why 13 Reasons?

Kalhan Sparks, Writer

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 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix original series that has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. It is essentially about the downfall of a girl that kills herself by cutting her wrists due to bullying, traumatic events, and the deception of her so-called friends. This girl, Hannah Baker, makes a series of 13 tapes before she meets her end. Each tape centers around blaming 13 people for her suicide. 

The show romanticizes suicide, and designs the plot in a way that it becomes a process of revenge. Lack of knowledge around psychology produced inaccurate depictions of mental illnesses. Clay, one of the “reasons why” is said to have Schizophrenia because of his affiliation with flashbacks/hallucinations, medications, therapy, etc. Moreover, schizophrenics brains tell them that their hallucinations are real, so it would be impossible for Clay to interact with Hannah in these “flashbacks” whilst also realizing that she is dead or not real. 

  13 Reasons Why is so surface level that it becomes relatable and that is a problem for the people watching. It is a problem because the months following the release increased suicide contagion by nearly 30% around the country due to the inability to display dark themes properly. 

Suicide contagion is also referred to as “copy cat suicide” because peoples reactions to suicide exposure end in the same thing. This idea is demonstrated in the film when one of the characters, Alex, shoots himself after Hannah Baker. He survives though, and that is interesting because less than 5% of people that attempt to take their lives in this manner survive while 6% of people die from extensive wrist lacerations. 

13 Reasons Why depreciates the depth of teens and adults, but especially the ones in the mental health field, as they are often much more perceptive than what is portrayed in the show where the adults that are supposed to help are incompetent and far from any understanding. Terrible things that take place are excused by social status. There is no information or reason behind the things they do, they just make up a stigma surrounding that specific character and that is supposed to act as an explanation for everything. 

The show differs from the book written by Jay Asher in various aspects to maintain a dramatic plot. The producers turned a serious topic into a reality TV show. For instance, in the young adult novel, Clay listens to all of the tapes in one night because he wants to know why he is one of the reasons after all. However, the series becomes what it is by building up the anticipation of drama. The graphic scene of Hannah killing herself also happens to be different from the book. It was edited to add edge to the story. Producers defended their decision by saying suicide is a real thing that needs to be seen, while others say it was for shock value. That scene was later removed from Netflix. It is apparent that this film is not necessarily “mature” like its ratings claim, but more of a poor execution of showing mature themes.