By Jenna Yingling ’21
The second season of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” will be released this spring or summer. The first season, based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher, came out last year and was incredibly popular among young adults. Season one revolved around the suicide of Hannah Baker and the tapes she left explaining why she decided to take her life.
However, it is unwise to release a second season when season one of this show failed to realistically address suicide and mental illness.
“13 Reasons Why” romanticized the idea of suicide to young adults. Through the passing around of the tapes, the series gave the impression that a person’s story will continue after death. “13 Reasons Why” made it look like teens who commit suicide will have a second chance at life.
Also, because Hannah Baker’s suicide was portrayed as happening at the fault of others, the show completely glorified the idea of suicide as a revenge fantasy towards those who ostracized and alienated the protagonist.
Along with suicide, “13 Reasons Why” did not address the main character’s depression. The show never explained that depression, the leading cause of suicide, is a treatable mental illness. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Through medicine and counseling, depression is manageable and does not have to result in suicide.
Furthermore, “13 Reasons Why” failed to portray adults as reliable sources, misleading young adults to believe that they cannot seek out the help of adults.
The biggest downfall of “13 Reasons Why” was that the show delivered the message that suicide is the only way to handle adversity.
The main character was bullied, objectified, and assaulted, which are all terrible situations that are incredibly hard to handle; however, “13 Reasons Why” should have expressed to teens how valuable life is, and no matter how hard it may seem, there are so many other options than suicide.
What “13 Reasons Why” should have done is demonstrated alternative ways the protagonist could have handled her pain. What teens need to understand is that overcoming adversity and powering through the hate is the most effective way to leave an impression on others and draw attention to what needs to change in society.