The second season of this popular Netflix show is being released tomorrow, 18th May.
It’s got me thinking about whether there was an accurate portrayal of mental health in the first series; is it relatable or is it just the media glorifying suicide to an audience of teens and young adults?
Let’s start with the tapes made by Hannah Baker, each one addressed to an individual explaining why they lead her to want to end her life. It creates this element of mystery, the other characters wanting to know what everyone else could have possibly done wrong, were others more to blame than themselves? It very quickly turns into a mystery-solving mission, a crazily twisted suicide mystery, this is what engages the audience.
The show portrays Hannah Baker as a fragile girl aka ‘a helpless princess’ who couldn’t help herself. She never properly tried to seek help; I’m aware she spoke to the school counselor once or twice but the conversations whereas brief as they could be. I’m pretty sure the word depression wasn’t even mentioned, there was no discussion on the topic of mental health whatsoever. Thirteen Reasons Why portrayed Hannah not wanting to try to get better, not wanting to voice her concerns or even write them down for someone to read.
Although having suicidal thoughts is something incredibly devastating and difficult to talk about, people do try, they try to pull themselves back to the light.
The show didn’t try to portray this. They showed Hannah’s death as something to be romanticised as they made it appear that suicide was the only option for those with suicidal thoughts.
This is not a message that should ever be given to young teens who are easily influenced and probably watching the show because they are going through a rough time or can relate to mental illness.
The part that most frustrated me was the act itself of Hannah taking her own life; there was no trigger warning at all before the scene happened or at the start of the episode. It should have been there so those who’re struggling themselves can choose to maybe not watch that episode as it may have a negative effect on them. If the show has been made to raise awareness of mental health and suicide a trigger warning should have been there for that scene as well as the scene where rape was clearly shown.
The death of Hannah by her cutting her wrists just appeared like a quick and easy way to show suicide on the screen, a dramatic way to make a head turn and keep your eyes glued to the screen. I believe it may have been done that way to shock the reader rather than to raise awareness.
In the series, before that day Hannah had never harmed herself before, not once and that day she did it so bad it brought her to an end. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen but it’s more common for teens to struggle with self-harm for a long period of time, try to stop and give it up and relapse, eventually ending in a really bad situation, not starting off in it.
The whole show it just a poor representation of mental health, depression, and suicide. Thirteen Reasons Why makes it appear to the audience that feeling that depressed it caused by the littlest thing, almost making those with depression seem like they are over-reacting and making a big show out of nothing; which is not the case in the slightest.
Thirteen reasons why doesn’t provide any help for those struggling, it almost makes it seem okay for them to not try to be okay. It’s like it’s trying to justify people wanting to end their life, which is total madness.
I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic, what did you think of the series of Thirteen Reasons Why?