Netflix Talks Suicide


Staff Writer: Lani Yun


So by now I’m sure nearly all of you have heard about the show “13 Reasons Why”. And if you haven’t already invested yourself in the series then you’ve at least seen all the memes going around on social media or maybe even read the book. But fear not, I am only here to deliver a review and give you a basic run down of the story, not make jokes about Hannah Baker.

To put it in short, the show is about a girl who commits suicide and leaves 8 tapes with 13 reasons as to why she killed herself. All of them are about a different person and each tape is set up in a different location to match the story. The tapes are passed around between the 13 different teenagers held accountable in a “hush-hush” manner as they listened to what each other had supposedly done. The story, although it sounds twisted, is captivating and grabs ahold of you as soon as you hit play, even if you have already read the book.

13 reasons

Cover art for “13 Reasons Why”

Courtesy of Creative Commons

But here’s the thing, the show “13 Reasons Why”, (in a sense) is pretty mucked up. To start off, viewers who have never read the book or heard of the show are going into something really dark that only gets worse as you progress. I mean, think about it, the audience that this program is appealing to is millennials, people who have been raped, those who are or have been addicted, and are or had been considering suicide. And they have watched this either without fully understanding the premise of the show or thinking it could help them by being able to relate to a show. But in reality it’s actually quite terrible because these kids, teenagers, young adults, go in blindly and ultimately see something that has happened to them once again or something that they were thinking of doing, it could have even happened to a loved one and that person has to relive the situation all over again.

So here’s where you may be thinking that I’m just being cynical and blowing it all out of proportion, but in all honesty, I’m not. In fact the writers and producers of the show literally met with leading experts of how the media contributes to youth suicides in a town KNOWN for suicide and suicide attempts. And then, after holding several meetings with these people, the producers did nearly everything they were warned not to do, even going as far as actually showing the death of Hannah Baker on-screen. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal to most, but what you don’t know is that the show took Hannah’s death completely out of context. In the book, the main character (Hannah) overdoses on medication, though rather than sticking to the original text, the writers turned Hannah’s suicide into something extremely graphic and quite disturbing. Instead, the viewers get an eye full of Hannah Baker slitting her own wrists in a bathtub that eventually overflows with blood tinged water, and when the producers were asked why they decided to change the segment? Their response was “We didn’t want to make the scene easy to watch, we wanted to convey that in no way is suicide something that is beneficial.”

clay and han

“Clay Jensen” & “Hannah Baker” from “13 Reasons Why”

courtesy of creative commons

Now, was the scene hard hitting? Yes, it was extremely bold of Netflix to include the bit, but victims of bullying who are considering suicide and are self-harming, past suicide survivors watched that scene take place. They watched a TEENAGE GIRL take her LIFE on-screen. And yeah, suicide is something that needs to be discussed and thought about. Rape and the victims of it need to be talked about, this topic of bullying and addiction NEED to have a voice, suicide prevention needs to be something that we are all aware of. But there is a place and a certain way to do it without turning up something wicked and soul crushing inside someone, and quite frankly, I don’t think that 13 reasons really thought that through before they made the rash decision to include the part.

All in all, the show is something ground breaking and it’s a job extremely well done. The directors knew how they wanted things done, the actors took on their roles with perfection and each sequence was laid out to where the viewers could understand. Samantha DeMatos, a sophomore at Woodstock High school said “I was so caught up in the whole plot, it was intriguing and had me on the edge of my seat but it was hard to watch at times, if you know what I mean.” Nevertheless, the type of media displayed is a sensitive subject. Sure, the episodes that had disturbing scenes contained warnings beforehand, but how were we to know that what we would be seeing would worse than we imagined. I just hope other films keep in mind that victims of rape, depression, bullying and suicide survivors do exist, during the future of movie/show production.

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