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Controversy surrounds Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why

Is a show about a high school student's suicide too dark for teen viewers?

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Controversy surrounds Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why

Melissa Ortiz, Graduating Senior

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Viewers of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why know from the beginning that the main character is going to die.

The only question is why. The 13-episode series tells the story of Hannah Baker, a high school student who committed suicide. Before dying she made a set of 13 cassette audio tapes, where she talks about the reasons that led her to committing suicide and the people who she says caused her to take this decision.

The suspense of finding out why Hannah made the tape for each person is what hooks the viewers. However, the plot has attracted critics who complain that the show romanticizes suicide.

Some organizations have advised teens not to see the series if they are experiencing some kind of problems similar to the ones being talked about in the show. The National Association of School Psychologists released a statement in response because of its concern with the series.

“Accurately 13 Reasons Why conveys that there is no one cause of suicide,” said the organization in its statement. “Research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.”

Some schools have even sent letters to the parents warning them about the content of the series.

“We would be particularly concerned for any student who may be struggling emotionally and views the series without the opportunity to process the content,” Derek Turner, the spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools (in what city or state), told News4 that the series “romanticizes” some “very adult themes.”

Shannon Purser, who plays Barb from Netflix’s Stranger Things joined the 13 Reasons conversation, sending out several tweets advising her followers to consider steering clear of the show to avoid being triggered.

“I would advise against watching 13 Reasons Why if you currently struggle with suicidal thoughts or self harm/have or undergone sexual assault,” Shannon Purser said.

Shannon struggles with depression and self-harm in the past, she said that while she sees how the content could be helpful for some people, the episode warnings should not be taken lightly.

“There are some very graphic scenes in there that could easily trigger painful memories and feelings. Please protect yourselves. There are lots of really good things about the show and I have no doubts that it is important and could be helpful to some. Just be careful,” Purser said.

At the end of the series, there is an episode where the executives, directors; explain that 13 Reasons Why is more than a show about violence, bullying, etc.

“We didn’t look away from the sexual assaults in the show, because to do otherwise is to minimize what those characters go through and what teenage girls go through every day. We had a number of people ask us along the way why we had Hannah kill herself in the way we did and why we showed it. We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide” Executive Director McCarthy said.

Even in this last episode also appear some psychologists talking about bullying, and giving some advice to those young people who are going through similar situations.

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About the Writer
Melissa Ortiz, Staff Writer

Name: Melissa Ortiz
Grade: 12
Academy: New Tech
Year on Staff: First Year

Title: Staff Writer
Why they are on staff? I want to learn the process...

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