3 reasons '13 Reasons Why' can send the wrong message
If you’re a couch potato, you may have already seen the hit Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. There's been a lot of debate on whether this highly polarizing show is sending a good, important message or an incredibly dangerous one. I think it does both.
The story revolves around teenager Hannah Baker and the 7 tapes she left behind. She recorded her story and made special mention of 13 incidents involving 12 people (spoiler alert: two tapes were dedicated to one person) and why they all pushed her to commit suicide.
It's a unique teenage drama story that takes on relevant issues like depression, bullying, and gender-identity struggle, among others.
I've seen the show and while I thought it was okay – yes, it was just okay for me; different strokes for different folks – I think more and more people will soon come to watch it. If you or your children do decide to watch it, here are 3 reasons why, I think, people should pay attention:
1) Some media organizations are cautious about covering suicide deaths because research studies have shown that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide.
But this hit TV series vividly portrayed how Baker died, and how the world of those around her started to crumble after the tragedy.
The show received a backlash for supposedly glorifying suicide.
Nic Sheff, the man behind the show, believed it would have been unfair and "irresponsible" not to show that suicide is not an easy way out. He recalled another story that made him realize "suicide is never peaceful and painless" and is "an excruciating, violent end to all hopes and dreams and possibilities for the future." That's the message they wanted to send.
2) One of the tapes featured Clay Jensen, a shy high school boy who had a special connection with Baker. Even if he was not meant to be in the tapes, as Baker said, he was still included. He was left to think about what he could have done to help her.
The answer is obvious: the only thing he could have done was to be there for her all the time. But I don't think that's the right lesson we should be teaching.
Teenagers should not be made to think that the feelings of a possible love interest should always come before their own because that person may be depressed, or worse, pretending to be. It's not a crime to put yourself first. Use your teenage years to discover yourself, and not someone else. You'll have plenty of time to do that as an adult.
3) The moral of the story is simple: we need to treat each other better, and we need to be more considerate because you don't know what another person could be going through. While that's all well and good, much of everything else is about a guilt trip (I'll leave it at that because I don't want to spoil it too much for you).
I don't suffer from depression so I will never claim that I understand what they're going through. It's a complicated mood disorder that attacks in different ways.
Unfortunately, a lot of people nowadays like to claim that they have it even when they really don't. As if it's not hard enough to understand the disorder, they make it even harder by pretending to have it. You're helping no one by doing this, and only making the issue look superficial when it should be taken seriously.
My worry is that the show will encourage even more people to self-diagnose just so they can push someone to feel guilty about something. A lot of unacceptable, bad, and mad things can happen to each of us, and this can pull us down, of course, but we should never use this serious disorder for emotional blackmail.
The repeated message of the show is that the people around Hannah Baker could have done something to prevent her suicide. While that could be true, the show failed to send an important message: If you suspect you or someone you care about has depression, please do everything you can to seek medical help. Do not self-diagnose.
We can't protect kids all the time. The best way to learn is based on their own experiences but when sensitive matters are shown on the media beyond our control at a time when even social media use has been reported to contribute to the rise of depression and anxiety especially among young women, there's no substitute for parental supervision and sound medical advice. – Rappler.com