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New Netflix show brings outrage on Twitter

Aspen Bakner, Reporter

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Netflix is the top ranked streaming service you can pay for with a variety of options, including 6,494 films and 1,609 TV shows. A vast majority of the shows have generated much discussion, but most recently, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has sparked significant controversy. 13 Reasons Why has gained the title of most tweeted show, but the question is: is this a good thing?

13 Reasons Why is based on the book of the same title published in 2007 by Jay Asher. The book examines 16-year-old Hannah Baker who commits suicide. But instead of leaving behind a suicide note, Hannah leaves behind 13 cassette tapes sharing the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The 13 tapes were sent to the 13 students she held responsible for her suicide.

The Netflix show released March 31, 2017, and it has been blowing up the internet since. Thousands of teens binge watched all 13 chilling episodes and loved it, spreading the message to others to watch. Some teens thought the show sent a great message, be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they’re going through, while others thought the show was romanticizing suicide and was utterly distasteful. There have been many arguments on Twitter and teens seem to be up in arms about this show. It is up for debate whether the show glorifies suicide or if the show shines a light on that important subject.

“I’ve been suicidal in the past, and I don’t understand the problem with. The show wasn’t glorifying suicide or saying it was a cool thing to do; it was just the story line. The show was spot on when it came down to high school drama and how it can bring you to the point of wanting to end your life … You feel like no one’s there to help you and that’s what everyone saw go through during the entire show.” Lisa Rhoades, a former WHS student, said.

People who enjoy the series are very confused about how others are offended by the show and don’t see 13 Reasons Why as inspirational and important. The people against the series are confused on how people see the show as fine or how the show doesn’t glorify suicide. What people don’t understand all together is that everyone who has been suicidal has gone through different experiences. No two individuals will have the same reasons to become suicidal. And others may not be seeing the outrage with the show since they can relate to the main character’s story. It’s a high possibility that individuals who do not relate with Hannah find the show offensive because they’ve had different experiences.

“There’s nothing wrong with the show, and it’s not romanticizing suicide at all,” Rhoades responds to the familiar comment: “13 Reasons Why romanticizes suicide”. “That’s like saying The Fault in Our Stars is romanticizing cancer. The show isn’t the problem; it’s the viewers. There are without a doubt going to be people who will watch the show and magically become suicidal to be just like Hannah, but that doesn’t mean it’s the shows issue, it’s the viewer’s discretion … It’s kind of like that saying ‘If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?’ a logical person would say no, but sadly some people are willing to jump, thinking it’s trendy.”

However, mental health experts plead that 13 Reasons Why doesn’t accurately portray a suicidal teen and they believe the show could be potentially dangerous to teenagers with suicidal issues. Mental health experts want to make sure people understand suicide isn’t just wanting to end your life, many times it goes along with a mental health disorder such as depression. Experts also want to inform that adults are there to help during times when you feel that there is no one to turn to. “The series is depicting suicide contagion, and at the same time, it denies the suicide contagion exists, it’s so upsetting to me,” Madelyn Gould, a professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia University, said in an interview with The New York Times on her frustrations with the series.

Another reason why this show is extremely controversial is that it brings up an unyielding reoccurring issue, jokes, and memes on suicide. Memes on Twitter and Instagram are trending using Hannah’s famous line on the show, “Welcome to your tape.” Many use this line in tweets where a situation would happen where that could make you feel unsatisfied or upset with the outcome, and the response is “welcome to your tape.” implying that you want to commit suicide because of what that person said or did. For example:

ME: I’ll Have a coke.

WAITER: I only have Pepsi.

ME: Welcome to your tape.

“These are funny to me, but they’re funny because you know the person writing them isn’t serious. Once again, I was suicidal, but these don’t offend me because I understand it’s a joke. These are memes. That’s all they are, and that’s all the power they should be given. Joking about suicide is messed up, but when it comes to memes, it doesn’t strike me as serious. But using the term in everyday occurrences to actual people is problematic, and it’s the real issue to me because it can be triggering for some people. You don’t know who you’re saying it to or what that person has been through.” Rhoades said.

Other memes are harmless and have no connection to joking about self-harm or suicide. There are multiple fan accounts on Twitter about the show that simply make fun of some of the characters or their traits. On those same fan accounts, the also conspiracies about the show that talk about what they think might happen if there’s a second season. Some are funnier and lighthearted. Others make you think a little bit about the characters and analyze their actions.

“It’s mind-blowing … there are so many possibilities as to what has been going on; it’s hard to wrap my head around,” said Makayla Meinhardt, a sophomore at WHS, on how she feels about the many conspiracies about the show.

13 Reasons Why was an overnight hit but it stirred up viral debates on the show’s content. Some even boycotting the beloved show to prove the point that the show was glorifying suicide. At the same time, 13 Reasons Why was also a well thought out series that touched many teens dealing with similar issues as Hannah. Though this cannot be forgotten when debating the issue; this show touches on very delicate topics that parents and few schools are scared to touch on.

It is so important to talk to teens about suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide is the fourth leading reason for death in teenagers from the ages of 12 to 19. These statistics are even scarier with the fact that Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the nation. Just a small talk with a teen about suicide, even if you’re positive they aren’t suicidal, could save them. If you talk to a teen about suicide, they could also take that information and speak to a friend who needs to be helped and possibly save their life as well. Suicide is a permanent issue to a temporary problem, and when someone commits suicide, it damages more than the victim. Moms, dads, siblings, other relatives, friends, and even teachers are left heartbroken for the rest of their lives knowing the teen will not be around anymore.

“Reach out, even if you feel like Hannah and can’t talk to your parents, or you don’t want to tell anyone at school because you’re embarrassed, call a hotline. Talk to someone anonymously. Just talk to someone because the minute you start talking, it gets easier. And just know that there’s life beyond what you’re feeling at the moment. I promise it will get better. There is an entire future of incredible things waiting for you. And if you go … you don’t get to see it,” Actress Katherine Langford who played the role of Hannah Baker said in an interview for the documentary 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons.
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

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