Suicide: 13 Reasons Not To

by ju.pelletier on May 4, 2017 - 10:33pm

Carolin Touzin wrote an article entitled “ 13 Reasons Why: une série «dangereuse» pour les ados dépressifs”. It’s been over a month since 13 Reasons Why, a teen drama focused on a teenage girl’s suicide, made its debut on Netflix, but the discussion around the series does not seem to quiet down. In fact, many learning establishments and specialists in suicide prevention are worried that the show might present an alternative solution to anyone going through difficult times or even worsen the state mind of youth already in treatment for mental illnesses.

Touzin’s article is based on testimonies coming from a psychiatrist and some suicide prevention stakeholders who have watched the show. Of course, they consider the series is a danger to any teenager in distress since it contains very explicit scenes, such as sexual aggressions and suicide. In the last episode, the spectators can clearly see how the protagonist, Hannah Baker, takes her own life. According to Dre Johanne Renaud, a medical leader of the child psychiatry program at the university Institute in mental health Douglas, the risks of contagion for suffering teenagers are real and cannot be ignored. After watching a few episodes, Dre Renaud noted an increase of suicidal thoughts at the clinic, which only justifies her opinion.  Moreover, specialists find that the biggest problem of this series is that it is only a very long compilation of failures, showing risk factors associated with suicide, such as intimidation, traumas and the lack of communication between adults and teenagers.

After realising that the series was the main discussion topic of teenagers, many schools got in touch with the AQPS (Association québécoise de prevention du suicide) for advice. Touzin’s article focuses on the fact that schools and parents must be alert and intervene in teens’ discussions by insisting on the fact that the series is a fiction, and that unlike what is depicted in the show, there are plenty of allies such as social intervenient present to help them if ever they needed the help.

Personally, for having watched 13 Reasons Why, I can confirm that it is moving. I do not deny that there is no heaviness in the show, but I do think the show plays a favour to anyone going through a similar life as Hannah Baker’s. I am aware that suicide is one of the main causes of death for youth. Not only is suicide a sensitive subject, but it is also scary and hard to talk about. The issue of suicide is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but it happens, so people have to talk about it. In my opinion, the main goal of the show is to open up discussion and bring the issues to light, showing them in a real way. I actually thought the show might change people’s mind about taking their lives because of how it affects everyone that was close to the victim. In the show, both Hannah’s parents and friends are devastated by her loss, and they can barely move on with their lives because they blame themselves for her death. As a society, I think we tend to shy away from these hard topics. Therefore, I think the producers did the right thing showing how Hannah dies. It is in fact very painful to watch, but it shows that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide. In brief, this show sparks conversation between adults and their teenagers. At first, I thought the show was terrible for showing such explicit scenes, but after reflecting on it, I realised that these things happened every day to people everywhere across the globe. Real people go through what is portrayed in the show. Exposing the world to this reality and raising awareness about it is mandatory. In your opinion and according to your worldview, do you think the show is beneficial or not for people watching it?

 

Touzin, Caroline. " 13 Reasons Why: une série «dangereuse» pour les ados dépressifs", LaPresse, published April 25, 2017, http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/sante/201704/24/01-5091522-13-reasons-..., accessed May 1st, 2017.

 

Comments

You bring up some good points in this article. Like many, I think that it might not be beneficial for people who are struggling to watch 13 Reasons Why. But in addition, I would like to bring up the gender stereotype that the movie also portrays and how it can tie in with teen suicide rates.

In this television series, Hannah Baker is the character that goes through a lot of struggles and eventually commits suicide. Coincidentally, she is a teenage girl and statistics show us that females attempt suicide 3 times more than males. However, 78% of suicides are actually done by males. About half of male suicides are done with firearms in effort to show violence to prove their masculinity whereas females are more likely to use drugs. It’s important to understand how gender can come into play and affect the struggles that come with the expectations of our society. In the movie, it’s apparent that many of Hannah’s problems involve her relationships with other guys. A sexual script is a narrative that tells us what exactly we’re supposed to do when it comes to sexuality and is commonly learned through popular culture and conversations around us. The Netflix series teaches us how to act according to gender and also deals with issues like sexual assault which depict the roles of men and women as subjects and objects in our society.

Read this The Guardian article on the gender and suicide: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/21/suicide-gender-men-women...

Hello Ju.pelletier,

Simply by looking at your title (Suicide: 13 Reasons Not To) I knew your post would be very interesting and talking about the current controversy around the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, more precisely around the suicidal scene of Hannah Baker. Consequently, I chose to comment your post because, just like you, I saw this teen drama show and was deeply touched by Hannah Baker's story. However, I disagree with some of the points you made in regards to the suicidal scene. In fact, you mentioned: "As a society, I think we tend to shy away from these hard topics. Therefore, I think the producers did the right thing showing how Hannah dies", but isn’t the story of Hannah already very sensitive to talk about? In my opinion, suicide should definitively be acknowledged and discussed with youth to attempt diminishing it as much as possible, but explicit scenes of the action should be censored since they might harm/traumatize some people more than anything else. Also, showing Hannah Baker’s suicide scene implies that suicide is the ultimate solution to make all your problems disappear and help from counselors or friends or family is not a working option. In other words, it may discourage youth from seeking help or advice if they are feeling suicidal. Personally, my parents always taught me that suicide was not an option if I encountered difficulties in my life, regardless of their severity. Finally, I disagree with the suicidal scene of Hannah Baker because suicide contagion is a real phenomenon, especially among the youth. For instance, after watching the scene, I felt very depressed even if suicidal thoughts never crossed my mind in my entire life. Imagine the power of that scene on people having suicidal feelings.

Therefore, to answer your discussion question now, I think the show in general is beneficial because it encourages discussion around suicide, intimidation, sexual assault, etc. In consequence, young people can be informed about those serious issues and think twice before insulting or touching inappropriately someone. Everything being said from my worldview, I think it could be helpful for my understanding of a position that is not mine to look deeper into the reasons why some people are in favor of the suicidal scene. Is it to prove that suicide is not glamorous at all? It is to commemorate Hannah Baker's life? Is this scene instructive (deeper criticism) in some way?

Hello OM,

Just like you, I was very moved by Hannah's suicide and her assault. But, I believed that I was strong enough to watch it and mature enough to assume the consequences of watching it. Hence, I am conscient that the suicidal scene might harm people that are sensitive since it harmed, in a way, both of us, but I also think that those advertisement in the beginning of the episodes are there for a reason. The advertisement clearly states that sensitive people should not watch if they feel uncomfortable around suicide and assault. Hence, I think the producers did everything they could do to warn the public of the show.

Hi Ju.pelletier,

First, I found that the title of your article was very significant and very appropriate for your text. As soon as a started to read your article I could not stop reading, I wanted to know what was your opinion on this issue.

I completely agree with you on the fact that suicide is a subject that people should be talking about in our society. Before this tv show was on Netflix, suicide was not part of our casual conversations at school. Since it came out, it is all people are talking about. This tv show is kind of a “wake up” call. People should not be talking about suicide just because of a tv show, but because it is a major problem in society and many people are suffering from bullies, traumas, aggressions, and those one need help.

For some people this tv show is a joke and just a drama to make memes about. However, for some others this tv show was very beneficial and “life changing”. I my opinion, it was a good way to pass a message and raise awareness on the issue, but it did not change my life.

I could not agree more with you Megan. I think this show was meant to raise awareness on how serious suicidal thoughts cross people's mind more and more. Hannah Baker had her reasons and what she has been through is terrible.

Nowadays, in the society, I feel like there are way more reasons than the ones illustrated in the show, leading people to take away their lives. In fact, I strongly believe that the school environment does not help, with all the competition going around, and how if you want to enter a contingent program, you must perform at a certain level. This competition is very harsh on many people, and some people actually commit suicide because they are unhappy. Even when a student gets in a contented program, they commit suicide because the studies are too demanding for what they can intake. According to an article form LaPresse, 2 to 5 medical doctors commit suicide every year, in Quebec only, making suicide the second cause of mortality for med school residents.

http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/sante/201109/28/01-4452363-medecins-en...

Why would you think so? Aren't they supposed to be happy that they finally finished their studies and doing what they have always dreamed of? Isn't that supposed to be overwhelming?

Hi,
I was interested by your article because I watched 13 reasons and I know there are many debates arround it because it's contreversial!

I agree with you that the purpose of the show was probably to bring people to talk about suicide and to realise that their daily actions can cause pain to people. But, the way the show is made, we feel like Hannah didn't have other choices than commiting suicide, like if she didn't have any other options, that she was stuck in this situation... That's the dangerous part. If a depressed person watches the serie and feels like Hannah, she might be tented to do the same thing. The authors of the series should have let people understand that she could have done something else.

A second season has been announced and many subjects will be clarified... Overall, this is a great tv show but the factor of getting help has been ignored and that's the dangerous part of it!

Hi,

The title of your article really kept my curiosity and for having watched the Netflix's show, I strongly wanted to know your opinion concerning whether it's tempting young people to think about suicide or not.

I personally think the show really wanted to express all the side effects that a suicide cause in the society. We see Hannah Baker suffering and seeing the suicide as her only option but the show express what suicide really is and cause to the people near the victim. All the tapes had major repercussions on the other students and the action itself of killing herself destroyed her family and the man she loved. The show is able to demonstrate very well how the ones close to the victims go through the suicide of someone they love and care about. I think it might insist people living a darker period in their lives to maybe think about what suicide would cause to the people the love and don't want to hurt. Even more, at one point in the show, Clay visualize a scene with Hannah where he wanted to express his love to her but couldn't because of the stress or any reason and when he does, the Hannah in his dream responded: Why didn't you tell me this when I was alive? I saw in this scene a sing of hope because Hannah as you known felt unwanted anywhere she went so with this scene I though that every person in this critical state where Hannah was can be saved by small actions and sometimes have the answer to their problems right in their faces.

For some people, like you said, the show might bring the idea of suicide to depressive people, but could it also be for people who are victims of rape? Because the show also touches this aspect. Do you think it might have an impact on how they feel about themselves?

Hi,

I totally agree with you when you talk about the scene where Clay devotes his love to Hannah. I believe that people going through times like Hannah only need a little brightness every day, to make her at least feel like she's worth something to someone. I think that talking to people who you think are going through rough times is important. Only signalling that you're there to hear and talk to them.

In fact, at the end the show, Clay goes to talk to that girl who works in the cafe. Earlier in the show, he saw how her fore arms were harmed and how she is mutilating herself. On of the last scenes we see is Clay going to talk to her and asking her to do something with him. For that girl, this might have changed everything. For Clay, it's not much, but for her, it's a completely different story. You never know how YOU can affect people around you, but it's worth giving it a try if it's to save those people from killing their selves.

Hi!
Your article is very interesting! As I can see, many people watched this show on Netflix and everybody (even those who did not watch it) has an opinion about it. I really liked the way you explained the other side's point of view and the way you expressed yours.
I am currently watching "13 Reasons Why" and my opinion is divided.
On one side, I strongly agree with you that it is important to talk about suicide and to show how words and actions can affect someone else's life. "13 Reasons Why" illustrates how a single "joke" destroyed Hannah Baker's life. Showing this allows bullies to realise how hurtful their "jokes" are. Also, it teaches that it is important to stand up and stop bullying when you are witnessing it. This Netflix show also reveals that bullying is still present in school and it shows how the presence of bullying affects students. Showing the truth about harrassement in High School could help preventing those types of situation. Moreover, "13 Resons Why" shows how devasted are Hannah Baker's family and friends after her suicide. This shows that suicide is not the only choice and that no matter what you are going through, there is still people who love you. I think that it is a great thing that all those aspects are discussed in this TV show.

On the other side, I agree with Carolin Touzin that this Netflix show is dangerous for teenagers in distress. Some of the scenes in this TV shows are difficult to watch and may cause dark thoughts. Hannah Baker often seems as if she was facing her problems alone. The producers of "13 Reasons Why" chose that no one would help Hannah, not even the counselor of her school. Everybody in this TV Show "failed" to save her. The producers' choice of letting Hannah fight her problems alone can lead some teenagers to think that no one could help them if they were depressed. Therefore, watching this TV Show could lead some teenagers believing that they are alone.

I think that even though this TV show is dangerous for people in distress, it is very instructive. In my opinion, talking about bullying in school and suicide could help prevent a situation like the one of Hannah. However, people who are struggling with depression should watch the show with caution and skip the explicit scenes. Trust me, some of them are really hard to watch.

PS: You spoiled me. :(

Hi ju.pulletier,
I decided to comment on your post because I've personally watched the series ''13 reasons why'' and totally in favor of what you are saying for many reason. At first this series does not seem like ''Hanna Baker'' ever had a moment of happiness in your life. Doctors have the right of being afraid of the affect of this series on young teenagers. This serie is providing the fact that teenagers should take away their life to prove others wrong and to make them feel worst. Because the purpose of this serie is that each person that heart her needs to listen to the tape that she made so they can understand why she killed herself and that they each are a reason of it by making them feeling bad about themselves. Hanna did not give any good reason for at the least the people that did not heart her. Her suicide was more about affecting others than simply getting away from her problem. She seemed to be more interested in that. The series was been watched so many times and it should more promote that teachers and parents are there for you during hard period instead of showing the miss comunication like it was their fault. Suicide is not an option and what kind of series should be watched by teenagers so they understand that it is not even an option?

Hi ju.pulletier,
I decided to comment on your post because I've personally watched the series ''13 reasons why'' and totally in favor of what you are saying for many reason. At first this series does not seem like ''Hanna Baker'' ever had a moment of happiness in your life. Doctors have the right of being afraid of the affect of this series on young teenagers. This serie is providing the fact that teenagers should take away their life to prove others wrong and to make them feel worst. Because the purpose of this serie is that each person that heart her needs to listen to the tape that she made so they can understand why she killed herself and that they each are a reason of it by making them feeling bad about themselves. Hanna did not give any good reason for at the least the people that did not heart her. Her suicide was more about affecting others than simply getting away from her problem. She seemed to be more interested in that. The series was been watched so many times and it should more promote that teachers and parents are there for you during hard period instead of showing the miss comunication like it was their fault. Suicide is not an option and what kind of series should be watched by teenagers so they understand that it is not even an option?

As I also watched the show, I can confirm that it is indeed moving. This show touched me, which is the reason why I chose to comment your post. I think it is great that you chose to talk about this controversial topic, because I feel like everyone started saying it had negative impacts before even truly studying those impacts on the long-run. It is impossible to say if the show is good or bad for the population since it is very recent. In my opinion, I think this show is beneficial because it opens our eyes to many taboos ignored by society. People like to complain about how this show is too hard on suicidal people, yet I have never seen more suicide prevention campaigns and discussions than I do now. I grant more importance to long-term consequences than short-term ones, which is why I believe that the long-term awareness is worth the short-term discomfort related to the tragedies described in the show.
Do you think that the discomfort will go away or that this show will always remain kind of a taboo?