“13 Reasons Why” has been one of the most talked about Netflix series since it came out in October of 2015. The series sheds light on sensitive topics most people are uncomfortable talking about and even more uncomfortable watching.
Suicide, anxiety, depression, bullying and sexual assault play significant roles in the lives of many of these characters. “13 Reasons Why” has stirred national controversy due to its shocking scenes, and in my opinion, it has spread awareness of what life can be like for some high school students.
“13 Reasons Why” takes place at Liberty High School where newcomer Hannah Baker joins the mix. Any teenager would find it challenging to transfer high schools, but for Hannah, her adjustment was almost impossible. Throughout her junior year, she was bullied, raped and even witnessed her friend being sexually assaulted. All these events contributed to Hannah’s suicide.
I believe the show doesn’t justify suicide, but rather, it shows the real effects trauma can have on someone’s life. Every scene through Hannah’s struggle was raw and authentic, and the producers of this show weren’t restrictive about the content they released.
Graphic and disturbing scenes are made for a reason because, sadly, that is the reality of depression. In the article “The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today’s Students,” Mary Ellen Flannery shares that 70% of children under 18 suffer from varying forms of mental illness.
Even though the series is heart wrenching, I believe it’s comforting for kids with mental illness to know there is someone out there just like them. Having personally dealt with a mental illness, I believe it’s important for kids to come out and share personal struggles with trusted adults.
As the series progresses, the focus shifts from that of suicide to exposing the trauma and problems that these kids face — national issues such as gun violence, abortion and murder. Many viewers took offense to the way the series idolized sucide and glamorized lives filled with depression and anxiety. “13 Reasons Why” has made an effort to cover issues many kids are struggling to face.
The show wasn’t intended for happy endings and cute romances. The show illustrates real life and real pain. Therapist Carol Ray agrees that the series does demonstrate what life is like for struggling mental health patients. The show has given clues for what life is like from the outside looking in.
“13 Reasons Why” is a difficult show to watch, which is understandable. The series wasn’t intended for everyone. I believe that the hardest shows to watch are the shows that make the most impact.
This show has brought an awareness to mental illnesses and nationwide problems. The producers decided to step out of their comfort zones and show the realness of life. The biggest arguments made against the series is that it’s too graphic and the topics are too sensitive, but that’s real life. It’s raw and authentic, and it’s what the reality is like for some people.
Written By: Fiona Rasak