THIRTEEN REASONS WHY: A GLORIFICATION OF SUICIDE?

13reasonswhy.jpg

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?

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33 comments so far.

33 responses to “THIRTEEN REASONS WHY: A GLORIFICATION OF SUICIDE?”

  1. Neve Smith says:

    I truly feel as you did regarding this show! It was a massive glorified romanticised idea of mental health! Yet the worst part of all was the fact that it made suicide look like a choice, an easy fix. It also put forth revenge in a way that it was alright which is just terrible!
    Neve x | https://lifewithneve.com/

  2. Jess says:

    I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why when I read the book and I did enjoy the TV series, I’ll probably watch series two but I never thought of it in this way and after reading this I definitely agree with you! It should have been a better representation of what people actually go through!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

    • bbbryony says:

      when I first watched it I didn’t initially realise how bad it portrayed things until to sit back and think about it, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen in season 2 x

  3. Lorna says:

    You’ve touched on some really important topics & made some great points here, I lost a relative to suicide so I’m always interested to read people’s thoughts. I think it’s good that it got people to talk about suicide and makes you think about how you treat people, however I hate how it glorifies it and how they focused on blame. Thanks for sharing this, it was interesting to read your thoughts!x

    • bbbryony says:

      I’m sorry to hear that you lost a relative💛 the shows unfortunate as they could of used the opportunity to raise more awareness and great discussion to help people rather than glorify it x

  4. Hels says:

    I completely agree with this, you’ve expressed this side of the portrayal extremely well. I didn’t particularly enjoy the show to be honest, I found it unbelievable and the characters themselves felt a bit flat, and it was like they were all being punished. I don’t think I’ll watch the next season, although I am intrigued.
    Hels xx
    http://www.thehelsproject.com

  5. Katt says:

    I was completely gripped when I first watched season 1, but the last couple of episodes really raised concerns with me. I totally agree that it makes suicide look like the easy option, and I really think it misrepresents how most people deal with mental health, depression and suicidal thoughts in “the real world”.

    I will be watching season 2, but mostly because I’m interested to see how they’ve dealt with it given the backlash the first season had.

    Katt | http://www.thirteenbeautysecrets.com

  6. Sophie says:

    This was really interesting. I haven’t watched the show other than about 10 minutes of the first episode. I’ve heard some really mixed things about it and this post certainly hasn’t made me want to rush and watch it. It’s such a shame that a show with so much hype and potential could miss the mark in such a serious way. I’m really curious, will you watch the second season? x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  7. Katie says:

    I definitely agree with the comments you made! I didn’t watch the show, thankfully I saw the backlash and the comments before getting around to watching it. When the first season aired I was in a dark place myself, so I’m really glad there were so many articles and blog posts on the show at the time. I knew it would be a bad idea to watch the show, and I’m glad I haven’t seen it. Whilst I think it’s great they’re raising so many important issues, I don’t think they’re necessarily handled in the most sensitive ways and from what I’ve heard… the show isn’t very realistic! Whilst I’m not planning on watching the show, I’m definitely going to follow along the commentary and critique of the second season.

    Katie | http://www.katielclark.co.uk

  8. Megan says:

    I totally agree with you and I think the fact that they came out with a second season shows this as well because a second season was not needed (I haven’t seen it yet and I’m not sure if I will). I think the book was a lot better and it wasn’t the authors intention to do this. In my opinion, the author was more focused on how our words can affect other people as well as the affect suicide has on the people around you, not necessarily the act of suicide itself. It is really disappointing because the show did seem to glorify the suicide and I don’t think that’s what was or should’ve been intended. This is such an important to talk about, I’m glad you did!

  9. jamie says:

    I absolutely LOVE that you shared this. I felt torn by the series. I totally agree with everything you’ve said… it definitely feels like they glorified suicide. not to mention there are SO many other issues…. like WHY didn’t she help her friend who was being sexually assaulted!?! ugh.. but at the same time I appreciate that they portrayed such taboo topics, hopefully making them easier for some people to talk about. excellent post girl 💛

    • bbbryony says:

      thank you, I get what you’re saying that it’s good they portrayed taboo topics, I think they sent a really shocking message to how much it affects loved ones which is something the show did well x

  10. I think it’s really interesting the opinion of 13 Reasons Why, the book and the show because opinion really divides especially with those who have had personal experiences with suicide, rape, depressions etc. For me personally, I don’t see it as a glorification, I see it as a shock which is needed in order to open up conversations but also I think it is more a show for people who have no experience with any of these things which the show and book deal with. I think it probably important for parents to watch with their children to open up that discussion. But on the otherside I can completely understand your point of view. I personally, was in a similar position as Hannah, years ago and I’m lucky enough to have been able to get the help and I’m in a much better place so I did find the show hard to watch and triggering so it took me a really long time to actually watch all the episodes. I think it relies heavily on personal choice and personal experiences, a show like this is certainly a double edged show because it won’t be 100% well represented but it’s not entirely untrue. It’s something which I think could have been better, but it deals with the issues better than other shows does. Though I think Hannah’s death can appear sudden (I didn’t watch the scene were she killed herself as a friend fast forwarded it for me, as it would have been very triggering), I did understand because although Hannah didn’t self-harm how you expect I think she was by cutting her hair, pulling away from her friends. But the show is definitely a double edged show, it may not be the best to deal with these issues but it may be the starting point for a creation of a show which would deal with these issues really well potentially? Sorry for the waffle its just the show is one which has so many different opinions.

  11. Finlay grace says:

    I’ve only watched the series & I did get glued to it! But it was the cliff hanger of “what’s on the next tape?” That kept me hooked! I have read a few posts like this and I do agree with you! You’ve raised a lot of good valid points! I honestly have no idea what the second season could be about?! I’m not watching it till Sunday! X

  12. I totally respect your opinion but I don’t agree with it!
    Watching season 1 really made me think about how people don’t commit suicide over just one big thing. It can be lots of small things, caused by people who didn’t really realize how badly they were affecting her life. It really got me thinking.
    Also, she did try to look for help, and I get what you’re saying that she could’ve tried harder but I feel like when someone is that depressed it wouldn’t have been easy for her. And the way the showed her relationship with Clay (how it turned out he was in love with her too) just made it obvious that if only she had held on for a little longer she could’ve been fine. So in that sense I think they were able to make the audience feel like she didn’t make the right decision, it’s not like she had no other option, she should’ve waited.

    But I do get what you’re saying about it being triggering to some people who might have been struggling with something in their lifes. I find it interesting to see how differently we felt about the show and loved reading your post regardless so please don’t take my comment the wrong way! (that was the longest comment ever!! haha) xx

    Angela | DreamsAndLashes.com

    • bbbryony says:

      thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really enjoyed reading them. I get what you’re saying about how lots of things can build up and suddenly hit her to make her feel that way, I agree with you there that’s it’s good they showed it could be caused my many problems building up x

  13. Megan says:

    I agree with you so much, though I am probably going to watch season two I am going to for sure go in with a whole lot more caution than I did before. I believe that the producers have learnt from their mistakes, right from the get go of the newest season they have lists of places to go for help and a warning to those struggling that this show may not be fore them and that they should watch with someone they trust. That being said, I’m one episode in and it seems much calmer than before. It is much more exploring the aftermath of it all.

    For me, season one triggered me beyond belief and I don’t think it helped my mental state at all. There was no mention of Hannah ever being depressed and that is what annoys me, the fact they claim it to be a show about depression but in reality it is a show about someone who had traumatic things happen to them that ultimately lead them to deal with the aftermath of it all in one of the most drastic ways. They shouldn’t have shown the suicide, they should have dealt with that more delicately, the graphicness of it was something that the show will always have a stigma for now.

    Wow, I have a lot to say, perhaps I’ll write a post on my views once I’ve finished season two!

    • bbbryony says:

      yeah please write a review on the second season after you’ve watched it, I’d love to read it! I believe season two should be better as they were make aware it was triggering so hopefully they’ve approached issues differently. x

  14. Ellie says:

    Really love your opinion on this! I enjoyed the storyline behind the show but the fact that they showed the death so graphically was absolutely disgusting and thats why i wont be watching season 2 or supporting it x

  15. Kanra Khan says:

    Ahh I wrote a review about 13 Reasons Why too! I kind of also found parts of it very questionable, but I am still very curious about season 2 and will definitely be watching it.
    If you want to check out my review, here’s the link: http://thelunardescent.com/2017/05/13-reasons-why-this-may-be-uncomfortable/

  16. Sarah says:

    There was not enough warning given before the airing of the first series as to how much graphical content there was and the risk of triggering the viewers mental health could be.
    What you have addressed here is very thought-provoking and I do agree with what you have said. In many ways this is dramatising something. That is a very serious call out for a crisis. Although it has given a huge platform for mental health conversations to be had, they haven’t handled it with the vulnerable memevers of the audience’s best interests at heart. Projection of the real truth is needed, not a gleamig spotlight.
    A wonderful piece darling x

  17. Kayla says:

    Wow this is hard to read, and yet so despratly needs to be read! Brilliant post! I’ve personally never seen the show, but I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about it. The way you described it is extremely sad and disheartening, and can be totally projected in the wrong light. I really enjoyed reading your post, thank you again for sharing!

  18. I totally agree with the points you’ve covered. Whilst I didn’t watch the first series, as “teen” shows aren’t really my cup of tea anyway, my younger brother was very into it, and bought into it as an accurate portrayal of mental illness. As someone who has experienced scenarios depicted in the show, I felt it was important to sit him down and show him the reality of mental health, suicidal tendencies and self-harm without the glorification. The show is controversial, graphic and I feel like they really don’t make the distinction between accuracy and drama very clear x

    Rachel // kyvbey.blogspot.com

    • bbbryony says:

      I agree with you so much that the show doesn’t make clear what’s accurate and that’s being dramatic for the show. It’s good that the show opened up a conversation for mental health however it could of been done in a more positive way as it’s spread show inaccurate messages. That’s so good that you sat your younger brother down to talk about the issues, it’s just a shame the show can’t be a helpful resource within itself (if you get what I’m trying to say) xx

  19. Ashleigh says:

    Despite never watching thirteen reasons why I totally agree with the points you’ve made in this post! Mental health is so incredibly important to talk about but it also needs to be portrayed correctly as it’s such a sensitive topic

    Ashleigh | http://ashleighwrites.co.uk

  20. Alice says:

    I do agree with quite a few of the things you’ve said – although I do think everyone has a completely different journey with mental health etc. I think it’s been good in the way that it has brought SOME light to mental health issues and that they can exist in younger people but like you said, there are some things it portrays in completely the wrong way. But I do feel like there are a HELL of a lot of people who are depressed that don’t go looking for help or show many signs of it because they’re ashamed which I think is what Hannah was like. The whole story is pretty whack aswell to be honest, some of the people did really shitty things to her and 100% deserve to feel guilty for their actions but leaving tapes behind to basically blame people for you killing yourself is actually quite a shitty thing to do, really…
    Alice Xx

  21. Florence says:

    I definitely agree with most of the points you said – it definitely did glorify and romanticise the idea of suicide/depression. Yet I also did think at times it was speaking upon a ‘taboo’ topic. I have just watched the first the episode of season 2, and they have definitely taken upon feedback. Before the episode started, they did a 50 second commentry from the actors themselves speaking about what the programme involves, and scenes that should not be watched if you a fragile etc… So they have definitely started to make the message more aware.

    Florence | https://beyondimagination12.blogspot.co.uk/

  22. Sara says:

    you’ve really touched upon some really important topics within this post, I think although there may be some issues with the show and the way they displayed certain things but I think this is definitely a step in the right direction for shedding a light on mental illness and suicide.

  23. Amanda says:

    I felt differently having watched the first season and having understood Hannah having been in a vaguely similar position. I interpreted it as sending a message to the audience think carefully about how you treat others because your actions can potentially have very serious consequences (which is something I’ve certainly experienced). However, you’ve made some compelling arguments that have caused me to look at it in a new light. I thoroughly agree that the show should have done a much better job of addressing the underlying mental health issues that Hannah was almost definitely affected by. Hopefully they will explore this in more depth in season 2! Great post 😀

  24. Kristin says:

    I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this show. It released far to close to the loss of a close friend to depression and the a few months later by an extended family member. Now it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I was actually hoping it wouldn’t come back. Having read your review I think it was a good choice not to watch it at the time. Maybe someday I will be able to a d see if it actually deserves my distaste.

  25. Huda says:

    I do agree with some of the points that you have mentioned here! I read the book way back in school and really loved it but back then there wasn’t so much awareness about mental health!
    I do believe there should be some type of warning before showing the actually suicide scenes and maybe have shown Hannah actively reach out for help! xx

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