After Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why aired, mental health experts voiced their concerns about the show’s graphic depiction of suicide. Spoiler alert: the main character slits her wrists with a razor blade and bleeds to death in a bathtub.
Due to all the controversy surrounding the show, the National Association of School Psychologists released a statement about their view on the matter:
“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.”
But while everyone is getting hung up on the actual moment when the main character slits her wrists, no one is talking about the scene in which her mother finds her dead in the bathtub. This is perhaps even more devastating than the suicide itself, as it shows how one person’s actions impact another.
And that’s the whole point of the show. The show does a very good job of illustrating how much pain, heartbreak, and devastation suicide wreaks on the lives of those who knew the victim.
Often times, those who commit suicide do so because they don’t think that anyone will care. However, 13 Reasons Why shows just how flawed that line of thinking really is. The viewer is shown the aftermath of suicide and how incredibly traumatic it is for the family, friends, and loved ones of the main character.
It’s also worth noting that 13 Reasons Why is actually based on a book by Jay Asher. In other words, no one had a problem with it until it became a show. So why is Netflix blamed for glamorizing suicide when the author of the book is not?
What it boils down to is this: suicide is an uncomfortable subject. But just because it’s uncomfortable that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. In fact, it’s better that we do.
Uncomfortable issues like rape, domestic violence, and suicide won’t get any better unless someone brings them to light and we talk about it openly. And that’s precisely what Netflix did; the media streaming service brought the issue to light and fostered a much-needed conversation surrounding suicide. That’s why I’m glad the producers decided to show suicide for what it really is.