13 Reasons Why is a Netflix original series based on the novel of the same title. It’s produced by Selena Gomez and her mom Mandy Teefey‘s production company Kicked to the Curb Productions. The show has a large fanbase but has also received tons of backlash for how it depicted suicide and mental health.
The premise for the show is that a girl named Hannah (Katherine Langford) commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes behind explaining why, similar to a note. The show graphically showed Hannah’s suicide without any warnings. Many people had issues with the suicide scene and how the show handles depression and suicide.
Reactions To Season 1
Dan Reidenberg, the director for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a nonprofit suicide prevention group, explained to ABC how the show could have a copycat effect and increase suicide because how the show depicts Hannah.
“There is a great concern that I have … that young people are going to overidentify with Hannah in the series and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this television series,” said Reidenberg in 2017 after the first season aired.
“I’ve heard from others that are really concerned because it’s so sensational and so graphic that they’re worried about the copycat effect of suicide,” he added. Reidenberg also said that the show doesn’t “present a viable alternative to suicide” and doesn’t talk about depression or mental illness.
After the first season critics took to Twitter explaining how the show was problematic. This Twitter user pointed out how Hannah uses her suicide to get revenge on her bullies.
Cosmopolitan reported that there were a few suicide copycats after the first season of the show. A 23-year-old girl committed suicide in Peru and left behind tapes like Hannah did. There are also two families in California who believe the show triggered their teenagers to commit suicide.
After the season aired Netflix created a video responding to the criticism. The video explained why they created the show and how mental health professionals were part of the production of the show. They even created a site, 13reasonswhy.info, so fans have access to crisis hotlines and other resources.
Despite the widespread criticism the show still has a strong fanbase. Many people think the show is de-stigmatizing mental health and suicide.
The soundtrack for the second season was released and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization providing free crisis intervention, and The Trevor Project, crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for young LGBTQ+ people.
Unlike the first season, the second season of 13 Reason’s Why will have trigger warnings before each episode. These trigger warning videos will be added to the first season episodes as well.
With season two coming out soon critics of the show are being vocal again. A list written by a 17-year-old with depression and anxiety explaining why the show is problematic is going viral. The main takeaway from the note is that the show “glorifies suicide.”
The second season will also be centered around sexual assault, specifically rape, so it’l be interesting to see how they tackle this topic in the Me Too era.