Why, 13 Reasons Why is dangerous.
CW: Suicide, Self Injury, Sexual Assault, Bullying.
13 Reasons Why has certainly been a divisive show. It follows the reasons why Hannah suicides over a series of cassette tapes, with the last episode graphically depicting her death. There are so many problems with the show and its depiction of mental illness, suicide, sexual assault and bullying and it has placed so many people, myself included in a very dangerous headspace.
There are guidelines on how suicide should be depicted in the media, 13 Reasons Why seems to blatantly ignore these. The guidelines outline how to depict suicide without causing more deaths ie. don't graphically depict anyone actively taking their lives. It is highly irresponsible to have a show aimed at young people to show exactly how to take their lives. After viewing some of the show as someone struggling with mental illness, self harm and suicidal ideation, the images depicted have been extremely intrusive and distressing. Producers have a responsibility and they certainly didn't take into account the vulnerability of their audience and a trigger warning before the episode doesn't really cut it.
13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide, making it seem as the ultimate way to get back at people, to prove that they hurt you. This is so dangerous and so simplistic. Suicide shouldn't be portrayed as a way to exact revenge and it shouldn't be romanticised. It shows suicide as resolving all her issues which really isn't the case. It shows suicide as a direct consequence of bullying and sexual assault, it doesn't go into the complexities of mental illness. Very little attention is given to Hannah's obvious mental ill health.
Finally, Hannah's attempts to get help from obviously a really shitty school counsellor is seriously discouraging to anyone struggling. It sends the message that they don't care and won't do anything about it. If a clinician was faced with anyone feeling suicidal, they would not be turned away and there would be serious consequences if they did. Clinicians are bound by law to notify this kind of thing and no qualified professional can ignore those blatant warning signs. Furthermore, mental health workers do care and they do want to help and are helpful to talk to. They won't blame you or judge you like they did in 13 Reasons Why. My personal experience with mental health clinicians has been overwhelmingly positive, supportive and helpful and the idea that someone might be discouraged from seeking help because of a tv show makes me incredibly angry.
There are so many issues with this show that the producers seem to have portrayed as 'raising awareness' which it does but at the same time puts so many vulnerable people at risk and I personally don't think that makes it worth it. Headspace, Australia's National Youth Mental Health service has issued a warning about the show, warning about the risk of contagion and triggering content after an increase in contact with mental health services after people becoming distressed after viewing the show. If that doesn't show that 13 Reason's Why is problematic, I don't know what does. It might have the right intentions, but they're portraying it in a really harmful way.
Any information on this blog is not a substitute for professional advice. It is written from personal experience and research only. If you are in crisis, go to your nearest emergency room, call lifeline on 13 11 14 or dial 000. If you live outside Australia, link to worldwide crisis numbers can be found in the sidebar.