Against 13 Reasons Why

Is there a reason the series should be removed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s start with being fair. I really think the series on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why (To be called 13 henceforth in this article), was meant to raise awareness to a problem. We all agree that teen suicide (And any suicide for that matter) is a problem and we all agree that mental health issues need to be addressed. We all agree there should be awareness of the problem, but could some means of awareness be increasing the problem?

13 involves a girl named Hannah’s story as she has killed herself and left behind 13 tapes for different people explaining why she did what she did. A boy, Clay, is the main protagonist trying to find interests, not least of which because he did have a crush on Hannah from what I saw. I didn’t see every episode, but my wife did, and I can definitely say the last scene with a public demonstration of Hannah’s suicide left my Allie greatly troubled for months.

She’s not the only one.

Keep in mind my wife is a suicide survivor. I have heard anecdotally of other people who got severely traumatized watching the series. There are some reports indicating that suicides have gone up since the show had its second season debuted and now there’s already talk of a third season.

Since the reports are mixed about the suicide rate going up, we might not know for sure, but could it be that maybe just to be safe we should hold off on a season? Perhaps Netflix should actually remove the series for the time being and see what happens. If the suicide rate goes down, then it could be further evidence there was a correlation.

I think part of the problem in the series is the concept that all the other people are responsible for the death of Hannah. To be fair, many people can contribute to someone’s negative attitude due to bullying and such, and some people have weaker skin than others and can’t take as much, but it is always someone’s personal choice if they decide to end their lives. While this is true, in reality, the ones left behind will always ask themselves if they could have done anything else differently.

I also think our modern self-esteem movement just doesn’t work. It leaves people with the idea that they are really good just floating in the air with no foundation. Many of us have a hard time believing such anyway because we can tell what is going on inside of ourselves.

When people are left adrift in the sea of society not knowing where they fit in, it does make it harder for them to communicate what they’re going through. People who are wrestling with suicidal tendencies that are severe should go and get help as best they can, but we need something to give them hope. Naturally, as a Christian, I think that’s the gospel, something we need to be doing a better job presenting anyway.

We also do need to restore the concept of community. We have a rabid individualism that makes each person look out for their own good. This is also seen in the hook-up culture where people have a greater tendency to use one another to fulfill their own sexual desires. In a community where everyone looks out for the good of the other and the good of the whole, I suspect we will be much more free to discuss major issues.

If you are considering suicide though, please please please get help. I cannot stress this enough. I urge you to contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if you live here in America. If you know someone who you think is considering this awful choice, please reach out to them.

And Netflix, please take down this series for the time being.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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