On March 31, the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why was released.
The series is based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher and follows the experiences of Clay Jenson as he listens to tapes left behind by Hannah Baker after she took her own life.
The show contains graphic scenes and incidents of sexual assault and rape, underage drinking, driving under the influence, body shaming and suicide. These scenes, as well as the show’s popularity amongst children at the middle and high school levels, has grabbed the attention of school administrators and parents across the country.
A letter to parents from JCPS called the show “all too real” and cited both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The NASP said that they do not recommend that the vulnerable youth, “especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”
Later in the letter, JCPS recommended that parents talk to their children about the subject matter of the show or to watch the show itself.
JCPS is right in some ways, the show does have some touchy material and the subject of suicide can be hard to swallow for a younger audience. However, the show also teaches viewers to watch what they say to the people around them because it can be detrimental and emotionally devastating to some, while possibly not even phasing others.
The subject matter is prevalent in today’s society and needs to be talked about. The executive producer of the show, Selena Gomez, said that “people—no matter what age—can relate to this story. Everyone has gone through this, and more than ever, this should be talked about today.”
13 Reasons Why brought suicide to the forefront of people’s minds. It’s shows like this that allow people to talk about the hard subjects and to prevent things that happen in the show to happen in real life. Of course suicide is not completely preventable but there are ways to help those who need it. The following resources are available to people in need at all times: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators, Preventing Youth Suicide and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.