The Dark Side of 13 Reasons Why: Is Teen Suicide Glamorized?

Should you ban your kids from reading and watching 13 Reasons Why?

Netflix has already renewed 13 Reasons Why, a novel by Jay Asher for a second season. The controversial show started with critical acclaim. However, there is a dark side of 13 Reasons Why. It depicts teen suicide in such a way that many adults are left wondering if it glamorized teen suicide.

Hannah Baker, a teen who has committed suicide and left behind cassette tapes giving 13 reasons why she did it, narrates the novel and the show. As the book and show move from chapter to chapter and episode to episode, Hannah blames each person in succession- a bully at school, a slut-shamer, an assault, etc. It places the blame for her death on the actions of other people.

There are minor variations between the show and the book including the graphic death in the tv show. However, both the show and the book left me wondering why? I watched and I read and I waited to be enlightened, to be given new information that might lead to understanding. Instead, both left me questioning everything that I ever learned about suicide, its causes, and its prevention.Recently, The National Association of School Psychologists has offered guidelines for educators with regard to this show. 

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

I had a number of issues while watching the show and reading the book. My fundamental problem is that Hannah Baker did not have an underlying mental illness. Psychologists agree that with help, suicide is preventable. No alternative to suicide is presented in either the book or the show. 13 Reasons Why creates an illusion that a suicidal person is in control after their death. The show now has an advisory warning at the beginning in addition to a website created for crisis information.

The show opens up a discussion about suicide and does correctly imply that there is no one reason for suicide. I was hoping that the show would do more. Maybe the second season will address some of the issues that left me feeling somewhat lacking in the book and the first season of the show. Maybe, the show will help to break down some of the stigmas that surround mental illness and open up channels for more meaningful discussions.  

The Dark Side of 13 Reasons Why: Is Teen Suicide Glamorized?Thirteen Reasons Why 10th Anniversary Edition by Jay Asher
Published by Penguin on December 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Suicide, Death & Dying, Bullying
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon


The #1 New York Times bestseller and modern classic that's been changing lives for a decade gets a gorgeous revamped cover and never-before-seen additional content, including:
·         An introduction from its award-winning author, Jay Asher;
·         The until-now-secret alternate ending for Hannah and Clay that almost was;
·         Early notes and ideas of how the story came to be;
·         Deleted scenes;
·         And more!

You can't stop the future. 
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Need to talk? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.

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The most talked about show this Spring, should be talked about but for the reasons you think.
READ THIS POST BEFORE you let your children see 13 Reasons Why.