Los Angeles High School of the Arts

Opinion: How watching Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ can lead to suicide

It is common for teenagers to experience depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, but these issues are often avoided by adults. Students feel scared to speak out and express their troubles, leading themselves to believe that they are alone.

When a new Netflix show that addressed our teenage struggles was released, everyone went crazy. Within days of its arrival on Netflix, “13 Reasons Why” blew up on social media, group chats, and daily conversations. Why is this series so popular? Along with being produced by famous actor and singer Selena Gomez, it is probably because the show is the epitome of the life of a teen in America.

“13 Reasons Why” includes the stereotypical high school characters: social outcasts, an Asian nerd, a group of rude jocks, and a “bad boy” basketball player who is dating a short-tempered cheerleader. It addresses drug abuse, rape, drunk driving, truancy, boy drama, and most importantly depression and suicide. To put it simply, “13 Reasons Why” is the story of why a girl named Hannah Baker killed herself. She slit her wrists in her bathtub because she couldn’t handle the pressure any longer.

Although Hannah’s suicide seems rash and impulsive, it was actually carefully planned. Before she stepped into that bathtub, Hannah recorded tapes and left copies of them on the doorsteps of certain classmates. These tapes included detailed stories of how the people listening to them had hurt her, and how they ultimately led her to end her life.

My friends convinced me to watch the show a few days after it came onto Netflix, and I binge watched about four episodes a day. I fell in love with the storyline, created connections with the characters, and found that I could relate to many of the situations that were depicted. But after a while, I found my dreams including visions of suicide, my thoughts becoming darker, and my mood shifting more negatively. I freaked out about little things that happened. Just normal, teenage things. Often times I stood in the bathroom sobbing, yet wondering why I was overreacting so much. During one panic attack, something in my brain clicked and I could see that the show was the cause of my irrational behavior.

I saw that Hannah made such a big deal about small things that happen to most of us in high school, and that prompted me to subconsciously think that it was normal to react like she did. The reality is, Hannah’s actions are not normal. Witnessing a friend’s rape, having rumors about you spread around the school, and being rejected by the boy you liked are not justifiable reasons to end your life. Hannah had many brutal and possibly traumatizing experiences in her life, and if she were a real person I wouldn’t judge her for what she did. But this suicide was broadcasted across the internet. Hannah’s story has been embedded into the brains of hundreds if not thousands of teenagers, distorting their ideas and values. Instead of being told to confront their enemies and find solutions to their problems, teenagers are now being taught that the best way to deliver revenge to the ones who hurt them is to commit suicide and send them tapes telling them how you were hurt, which will make them feel bad about what they did.

“13 Reasons Why” may address a lot of the issues we face as adolescents, but it is not the complete “How to Conquer Your Teenage Years Handbook” that we have been hoping for. The topics are brought up, but the solutions this show presents are the absolute opposite of what is right.

“13 Reasons Why” is overrated and extremely dangerous for confused teenagers. If a student were to create tapes about thirteen things that drove them to depression, I’m sure this show could be one of the thirteen reasons why.

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