Netflix '13 Reasons Why' Controversy: TV Series Criticized For Glamorizing Teen Suicide

13 Reasons Why
Do you think Netlix TV Serie "13 Reasons Why" is idealizing suicide? Photo: Screenshoot/ Netflix

After the expectation generated, on March 31, Netflix premiered the television series "13 Reasons Why", releasing all episodes on the same day. Immediately there was controversy and concern about the crude way in which suicide is represented.

Suicide prevention specialists express their concern that teens might see it complete without the possibility of careful analysis. The series, which does not contain any referrals to the national suicide prevention hotline, tells the story of a teenage girl who, after suffering unfortunate events during her school life, decides to take her own life. Death, including sexual abuse, drug use and harassment.

The 13-episode drama, co-produced by actress and singer Selena Gomez, is based on Jay Asher's 2007 young adult novel. The creators of the show said they have no regrets, and argue that the honest portrait should be "crude."

"A lot of people are accusing the show of idealizing suicide," said writer Brian Yorkey. "What we did was portray the suicide and we put it very ugly and very harmful."

Due the controversy Netflix says it will add more trigger warnings to the show given its graphic depiction of sexual assault and suicide. “There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series 13 Reasons Why,” the American entertainment company said in its statement. “While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories."

The statement continued, "Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL 13ReasonsWhy.info.”

Clinical Psychologist Karen Nimmo told to Latin Times the TV show is not advisable to all the audience. "Firstly, I must emphasis the material in 13 Reasons Why is not suitable for everyone - it may be harmful for young, impressionable people and it may trigger trauma symptoms in people who have been up close to rape or suicide," Nimmo says. “While the suicide scene is harrowing, this is the reality. Suicide, for the person who dies and for those who find them, is gruesome. It is not a pretty or peaceful way to die. It is ugly, painful and the legacy is devastating for parents, family and friends. We need to accept this reality and work from there," she added. 

Karen is a registered clinical psychologist and physical educator, that promotes the mind-body connection in her work. She works with different difficulties such as, depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety and panic, weight and body image, trauma, self-esteem, confidence and much more. 

The National Association of School Psychologists sent a notice to professionals across the country about how to talk about the show. "Schools have an important role in preventing youth suicide, and being aware of potential risk factors in students’ lives is vital to this responsibility," says NASP. "The trending Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on a young adult novel of the same name, is raising such concerns."

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the JED Foundation have created talking points for conversations with youth specific to the 13 Reasons Why series, available here.

Remember suicide is never a solution! It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. There is help. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “START” to 741741.

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Lifestyle Reporter

Shirley Gomez has been exposed to many aspects of the art world. Besides being a Fashion Journalist, she studied Fashion Styling and Fashion Styling for Men at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Interior Design at UNIBE and Fashion Design at ITSMJ Fashion School in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a Fashion Journalist, Fashion Stylist and Social Media Manager at one of the most recognized magazines in the Dominican Republic, Oh! Magazine, as an occasional Entertainment Journalist, of the prestigious newspaper “Listín Diario”, as well as a fashion collaborator of a radio show aired in 100.9 FM SuperQ. When Shirley is not writing you can find her listening Demi Lovato or Beyonce's songs, decorating her apartment or watching Family Feud.