A Serious Conversation-Starter, ’13 Reasons Why’


Stefana Avara, Staff

In late March, the popular movie and TV-show streaming service Netflix released a powerful new series that kept CHS glued to their devices during Spring Break. Produced by Selena Gomez, 13 Reason’s Why is based on the best-selling novel of the same name. The series tells the story of a high-schooler named Hannah Baker, and all of the aspects (and people) in her life that drove her to commit suicide.

Hannah left behind a series of 13 tapes calling out the names of the people for whom she blames for her suicide. From graphic scenes portraying sexual assault, to a disturbing scene that reenacts Hannah’s suicide, 13 Reasons Why left mixed feelings amongst the CHS community.

“I watched all 13 episodes in about three days…the show was addicting. Each episode gave the audience enough plot twists that I couldn’t help but press the “next episode” button,” senior Kayla Wood explained.

Hannah’s journey goes beyond a simple teen drama; the producers included how Hannah’s suicide affected local businesses, other students at her school, and the entire community as a whole. Not only did CHS students appreciate the storyline of this popular show, but some teachers even spent time between grading papers to watch the compelling documentary.

“It was truly horrifying to watch that show and think of any of my students going through something like that. I think within the past few years, social media outlets have really fueled bullying and made it a lot harder for teachers and parents to detect,” Social Studies department chair Courtney Fleming remarked.

Although the story’s message is obviously powerful, some students were disturbed by the detailed depictions of such heavy subjects. Some critics even argue that the show might romanticized suicide to the point where teens with suicidal thoughts might feel encouraged by the show.

“Watching the scenes that depicted sexual assault made me really uncomfortable. The assault took place at a high school party similar to the one students here attend…the producer’s reenactment just felt so real.. Hannah’s suicide scene also made me really uncomfortable but I understand why they included it,” junior Allison Kooyman said.

Kooyman is not alone; many critics argue that the show’s producers might’ve gone too far in including the visuals of Hannah’s suicide. In the graphic scene that depicts Hannah’s suicide, Hannah takes a razor blade and pierces the skin on her wrists as she submerges herself into a bathtub. This scene was enough to leave any viewer feeling uneasy.

“The suicide scene made me cringe at first. But then I realized the importance of showing it in such a graphic way. If the producers hadn’t included that scene, the viewers never would have been able to fully understand the pain Hannah felt,” junior Alexis Taylor added.

The National Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace, fears that 13 Reason’s Why  might encourage copy-cat suicides. According to data collected by the foundation, the service has received a growing number of calls and emails directly related to the series.

Kirsten Douglass, Headspace’s national manager for school support, stated that “some students have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made t hem consider whether suicide is a possible option for them.”

Before watching this series, consider whether or not you think you might be negatively impacted by being exposed to sensitive material.



If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline