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“13 Reasons Why” Provokes Strong Responses

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On March 31, 2017, Netflix released their new hit television series 13 Reasons Why. Based on the the hit novel by Jay Asher, the series tells of a teenage girl named Hannah Baker who has commited suicide but left behind a series of tapes that are passed around to all of the people on the tapes.  The tapes “explain” her reasons for killing herself.   Since its release, the show has caused a firestorm of controversy and is being watched and talked about everywhere, including in Verona.

The show has received mixed reviews. There are those who love the show and are glad that such a controversial topic is being addressed and explored. Then there are those who think that the show romanticizes suicide.  Many schools have contacted parents, suggesting they ban the show from their children due to its graphic nature. Personally, I have watched the show with my mom as well as my 12-year-old younger sister. While the scenes can be graphic, I think that overall the show brings attention to topics that people don’t like to talk about.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college-aged young adults and for youths ages 12-18. An average of two people between the ages of 10 – 24 commit suicide each week and four out of five teens who commit suicide show clear warning signs. The fact of the matter is this: suicide is ugly but it needs to be talked about. There is no such thing as romanticizing suicide. It will never not be ugly, especially not teen suicide. “13 Reasons Why” has taken teen suicide and made it a talked about subject which, in my opinion, is exactly what needed to happen.  It is more dangerous to NOT talk about suicide. People tend to forget that it was a novel first and the only reason it is so controversial now is because it is easily accessible to the 89.09 million subscribers on Netflix. The show also brings attention to topics like rape and the effects that rape can have on its victims.

Most of the criticism of the show comes from those who believe the show misunderstands mental illness and does not address it correctly. While I agree with this on some level, I think the bigger picture here is that suicide needs to be talked about. It affects many, even in small towns like Verona, and there is no escaping this controversial topic. Criticism of aspects of the the show is probably fair, but it seems the whole point of the series is to make people talk.  It is doing a great job of that.

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The news site of Verona High School
“13 Reasons Why” Provokes Strong Responses