On March 31, 2017; the steaming service known as Netflix released a new mini series called "13 Reasons Why". This has quickly become one the most talked about series throughout the world. The story is based on the book by Jay Asher where the character Clay Jensen who had a high school crush on Hannah who ends up committing suicide. Suddenly two weeks after her death Clay receives a mysterious package on his porch which contains several cassette tapes of Hannah's recordings explaining the 13 reasons why she chose to end her life.
Within the last few days since the show was released it has created a lot of concern in the mental health, education and youth advocacy groups. Groups have demanded that the books be banned from the school libraries including Colorado, which has had seven teenangers ending their own lives:
The show claims they had gotten experts to give their advice on how to illustrate the content to young people and making sure the correct message is sent. Something similar to this happened recently as well with the new Facebook feature called "Facebook Live". This is where people can do a live broadcast through their Facebook account to their friends. What started happening was teenagers decided to do a live broadcast of their own suicide, and thus sparked several copycats doing the same thing.
If this is your first time reading any of my material, I'm sure you're wondering how am I qualified to write on this topic? Let me explain first off I am not a doctor or anything but I still have credibility. I've been an educator for nearly two decades and I have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. I have addressed suicide in 3 different blog entries - #14 Bullies, #62 The Elephant in the Room and #86 The Tragedy of Graham Gentles. I welcome you to read those entries because I offer different points of insight into what it is being suicidal. As a teacher, I've had my fair share of having to deal with teenage suicide. I've had friends of students and one of my actual students who have taken their life. As a teacher, we are not just educators, but counselors, caregivers and even parents to our students. We are trained to deal with these situations, but there never ones we enjoy doing.
Of course there have been stories that precede this one that deal directly with suicide, we can look all the way back to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as a play that zeroed in on the topic. As much as our society wants push the subject aside I believe it's important to address the second leading cause of death in teenagers today. I firmly believe exposing the issue to teenagers gets them to critically think about what suicide really means and effect the event would have on all of their loved ones. Any time a teen who is strongly considering ending their life only to decide there is a better way to solve the issue without drastic action is a great victory to the teen and to the ones around them. The idea of a 'fatalist' ending seems to be a predominant idea whenever life gets rather difficult. In the show 13 Reasons Why, the series does graphically show the suicide. I do tend to wonder if the graphic nature is really needed, in some regards I feel like that is a two headed coin. You might want to show the not-so-beauty of a person taking their life, but can we get the same idea without the graphic detail.
Through this whole controversy the biggest element that must happen is communication. In the story, that line of communication was severely flawed which is a large reason why the teen in the show ultimately took her own life. One big key in being a teacher was the ability to talk to the students and get to know them on a personal level. Friends are really important and talking with them can be a wealth of knowledge. The greatest danger for any friend is not to share what they've learned if their friend is feeling like they really want to end it all; even if the friend is sworn to secrecy, saving their life is far more important than keeping their trust.
The best professional advice I could give is if you really want to see 13 Reasons Why then keep in mind what the story is about and your reasons for watching it. I can honestly say I haven't watched the whole series, I just watched the scenes that might be an issue with young people. I know one of the important things that the producers want when people watch their show is to create an open discussion about the topic of teenage suicide. I guess the only question is - does the end justify the means? Time may only tell on that quandary. Suicide is a serious matter and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. There is help. You are not alone. We only get one life and we should try to live it because as dark as things might seem; there is always a light in the end - just keep holding on and have faith.
THE NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE IS: 1-800-273-8255
Song of Inspiration [Check it out on Android or iTunes!]:
Artist: Danny Gokey
HERE THE MUSIC VIDEO TO THE SELECTED SONG...SO - RISE!!!!!!