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Thirteen Reasons Why
by TeenHelp December 4th 2017, 01:03 AM

Thirteen Reasons Why
By Brittany (.Brittany.) and Oliver (anemoia)

In 2007, the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was released. In July of 2011, Asher's novel became #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. In 2016, Selena Gomez teamed up with Netflix to produce an original series based on the book. The series was released on March 31, 2017. The release of the series has since sparked a debate all over the world.

The series is about the suicide of Hannah Baker and the events that occurred before her death. Before Hannah died, she used seven cassette tapes to record a suicide note. The cassettes and a map were sent to each of the thirteen people Hannah felt contributed the most in her decision to complete suicide. While the series is focused on Clay listening to the cassettes, each person receives and listens to the recordings before sending them to the next person. Some themes presented in the series include suicide, mental illness, self-harm, bullying, and sexual assault.

On May 7, 2017, Netflix announced that they will be producing a second season of the series.

Top Concerns
  • Suicide is glorified even though that was not the intention.
  • Suicide is much more complicated than how it's shown on TV. There are many things that can contribute to someone wanting to end their life, but the series simplifies it and perpetuates the idea that others are to blame for someone’s suicide.
  • There is a risk of copycat suicide/self-harm behaviors.
  • The series portrayed the wrong way to open conversations on mental illness and suicide/bullying.
  • Selena Gomez states the story is a “beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story”.[Source] Mental illnesses are not beautiful. They are not showering or brushing your teeth for days or weeks on end. They are looking functional enough for people not to notice and for you to suffer in silence. They are staying in bed all day because you cannot face the world that lies outside of your bedroom. They are switching a light switch off and on over twenty times to prevent an electrical fire. They are being so paranoid that you shut yourself away. They are having no empathy for others. Saying it is beautiful romanticizes suicide, self-harm, and mental illnesses. Suicide is not trendy. It is not a catalyst for change. If it were, all the suicides that have already occurred in the world would have made some progress with the stigma. [Source]
  • The series suggests that the reason for Hannah’s suicide was to get revenge and make others feel guilty for her decision to kill herself. It should have focused on her thoughts, emotions, and probable mental illness as the cause for her suicide. This is not only portrayed in the Netflix adaptation, but also in the novel.
  • It implies that school mental health professionals are not a reliable source for help, possibly discouraging teens to approach their school’s staff or other professionals. The way the professionals act in the series is unethical. While there are mental health professionals who behave this way, the majority uphold ethical behavior. There are also no examples of anyone successfully seeking help and support.
  • Some may view Hannah’s decision to end her life as a logical and justified solution to their problems rather than acknowledging that there are other solutions.
  • While some people know what triggers them, some do not and others may purposely watch the series to trigger themselves.
  • It graphically depicts one way someone could end their life.
  • While Hannah admits that the decision to complete suicide was entirely her own, it suggests that those thirteen people were the reason Hannah ended her life. However, Hannah would never really know what their reactions were to the tapes as death is final and can't be reversed, but also as far as we know, you don't get to watch the events unfold after you complete suicide.

Positive Outlook
  • It opens the conversation and brings awareness to things like mental illness, suicide, bullying, and sexual assault.
  • It shows how small actions can significantly affect someone else.
  • It sends a message that if your friend is struggling and you don't take action sooner rather than later, something could happen to your friend that you might not be able to fix.
  • It’s an accurate depiction of the thought processes of teens and adults with mental illness.
  • It has prompted schools to step up suicide prevention efforts.
  • It demonstrates how someone’s suicide not only affects their friends and family, but how it can also affect their school and community.
  • For some people, this series had a good choice in actors, producers, music etc.
  • The series had complex characters.
  • Hannah is telling the story and is an unreliable narrator. Just because it’s her story does not mean the way she viewed the world was how it really was.
  • While it is known that Hannah ultimately completes suicide, there is still a mystery around why she made that decision. As the series goes on those details are revealed.


If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please reach out for help. No one can know you are struggling if you do not tell them directly. You can find information at [TeenHelp’s Safety Zone] on how to stay safe and how to get help, or you can take a look at the list of [Hotlines]

In 2015, suicide was the third leading cause of death among those aged 10-14 and the second among those aged 15-34 years. [Source]
In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death in England and Wales among those aged 5-19. [Source]
From 2012 to 2014, suicide was the first leading cause of death in Australia among those aged 15-24. [Source]

Recommendations on the reporting of suicide in the media
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