by Dounia Hanchaoui

Netflix’s newly-released series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher, details thirteen devastating situations that resulted in a character’s suicide. This adaptation received a number of positive reviews from critics and audiences (including a 91% approval from Rotten Tomatoes), and was praised for its overall theme and great casting.

Despite the positive reception, “13 Reasons Why” also faced negative comments regarding its controversial portrayal of suicide. This is particularly because the show’s comprehensive elements of suicide, violence, and sexual assault have some mental health experts saying the series might be more harmful than helpful. Many schools have warned parents about the series, stating that it might glorify or romanticize a student’s perception of suicide. In the show, Hannah Baker commits suicide and leaves audio tapes detailing the specific people and events she blames for her death, and the show follows the character’s reactions in the aftermath of Hannah’s death. The show also depicts disturbing scenes of violence, rape, and Hannah’s suicide. 

Since the show’s content is highly relevant to adolescence and brings awareness to mental health issues, some New Hampshire students have wanted to view “13 Reasons Why” in school in order to spread the message of “Be kind, it could save a life”. However, others (including some New Hampshire school districts) believe the show will trigger children and teens with its graphic content. Regardless, “13 Reasons Why” will remain a controversial topic, but the taboo discussion of suicide and sexual assault needs to be more discussed in our communities.