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Controversial “Thirteen Reasons Why” show can have a positive impact on today’s youth


Chloe Kitsu

“Hey, it’s Hannah….Hannah Baker…” has been playing through many teen’s mobile devices as they watch the hit controversial Netflix tv show, Thirteen Reasons Why. The fictional tv show focuses on a teen girl, Hannah Baker, who experiences bullying and sexual assault and ultimately commits suicide, and leaves behind a set of tapes that explains why she did what she did. The show itself is very graphic, as scenes of rape and Hannah’s suicide are shown in detail.

Here in Hawaii, schools are expressing their worry in what kind of impact the show can have on students. The DOE sent home a letter to parents to warn parents about the show and it’s graphic portrayals of rape and suicide.

In the letter it says, “The National Association of Psychologists recently stated it does not ‘recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this show.’”

There has been a great debate on whether or not Thirteen Reasons Why, is actually appropriate for it’s main audience, teens. The show is rated mature audiences, which means that teens under the age of seventeen are not supposed to be watching the show.

Although the show can portray graphic scenes that may be encouraging those going through similar situations to consider suicide, we think the show can have a positive impact on today’s youth.

The show oppresses the stigma of shame about having a mental illness. In the show, we see many of the characters go through anxiety and depression. Clay, one of the main characters suffers panic attacks due to the stress of Hannah’s suicide. Hannah herself, also goes through depression as she deals with the bullying. The show openly shows the characters going through the highs and lows of these mental illnesses. It relieves a lot of the shame that teens feel about having depression or anxiety by opening the door and showing that they are not alone.

The show is very educational to those who do not understand mental illness and how it can get to a person. Many people think that because you cannot physically see anxiety or depression that it must not be there, but it is. The show can really help not only people with mental illnesses feel that they are not alone in how they feel, but it can also educate those who do not understand mental illness learn about it.

The show focuses a lot on the power of social media and cyberbullying, and we believe that this is important to show how far one post can go.

In the show, an unflattering picture is shared of Hannah and it is spread around the school, and that was the start of the entire spiral that ultimately lead to her suicide. Today, we as teens have a powerful weapon that can destroy many lives, social media. We post things that sometimes may be a joke to irritate our friends or just an unflattering picture that we think is funny. However, none of us really think about any of the effects one post can have on a person’s life.

Thirteen Reasons Why, shows the reality of what can actually happen when one “joke” goes too far and destroys a person. The show is educational for teens to show that even their smallest actions can have great consequences, maybe not on their life, but on other people’s lives.

Thirteen Reasons Why shows that teens who are going through similar situations, are not alone and that there is help and hope. As teens, our brains are not fully developed yet. Therefore, the smallest thing can make us feel that our life is over or that there is nothing worth living for.

Many believe that Thirteen Reasons Why is too graphic for teens to watch and can be encouraging to those who are going through similar situations to consider suicide.

In the letter sent home from the DOE it says, “The National Association of Psychologists recently stated it does not ‘recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this show.’”

In the midst of all the controversy, Thirteen Reasons Why is a great show that can educate and change today’s youth with proper guidance.

Although the show is very graphic, teens should watch the show to learn about the consequences that their actions can have and to understand the realness of rape and suicide.

We think that certain scenes in the show can be used for educational purposes, with the proper pre and post show discussions with an appropriate adult.

The show can also serve as a bridge between parents and their children to open up doors to talk to their child about these types of things. Parents should watch it with their child and have discussions with them over some of the topics presented in the show.

The show has been picked up for a second season and we hope to see how each of the characters affected by situations like rape and suicide do next.

In season one, we saw what happened to Hannah after the various events. Now we want to see what the characters will do next. For the characters, who committed a crime like rape, we hope to see them face the consequences of their actions, for that will show teens that there are repercussions to their actions. For the other characters, we hope they show how they find ways to positively cope with their pain and issues. This will give teens who are going through the same thing some ways in which they can address their issues.