A Texas senior tells Moneyish how the Netflix series produced by Selena Gomez does more harm than good
The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” produced by Selena Gomez is getting flack from mental health experts, parents and teachers for potentially encouraging the teen suicides that the show is supposed to prevent. The series is based on the 2007 bestselling young adult novel that follows a high school junior named Hannah, who posthumously recounts why she killed herself by sending classmates 13 cassette tapes revealing how her self esteem was eroded over a year and a half of being stalked, sexually harassed and raped.
Netflix is adding more content advisories to the streaming series this week, and said in a statement that, “While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting an important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories.” And Gomez responded in an Associated Press interview this week that this is “a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story … We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what. It’s not an easy subject to talk about.”
Katie Anne Cadjew, an 18-year-old high school senior from Abilene, Texas, shares those concerns. She tells Moneyish her own reasons why other teens should pass on this show.
Let’s talk about “13 Reasons Why” for a second. I have finally finished this show that has taken my social media by storm. And I hated it.
I can see where this show can be used as a tool for suicide awareness and prevention — but more often than not, that’s not the message received from this series. I read the book my freshman year, and I loved it. I felt disbelief after reading it; like, there’s no way my actions can affect someone so deeply. It’s just high school, right? The message from the book was a lot more awareness-based and encouraged being kind to one another and getting help if you are feeling depressed.
The tapes in the book were telling a story. In the show, they were placing blame. The message I got from the show was that my only option to fight back, my only way to escape, my only way to make my life better, well, is to end it.
I was not told there are people to help. I was actually shown that when asking for help, you will be told to get over it and move on. Sure, the series does paint a realistic picture. Everything that happens to Hannah – like having a guy text an upskirt pic of her to the entire school, or being named “best a–” in the sophomore class – really does happen every day to girls and boys in high school. There are boys that start rumors about hooking up with a girl and who lie about what actually happened. Girls get negative attention for their bodies, and get asked out just because rumor has it that they’re “easy.”‘
But the show takes some things too far. The numerous rape scenes are graphic, violent, horrific and heartbreaking. Hannah’s rape scene was so intense, I cried through the whole thing. I have never seen or experienced anything like that. I hate to think about kids younger than me, 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds, watching that. My stomach still hurts from watching it. I can’t imagine anyone who has been violated sitting through these scenes.
It’s proven that those who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts are more likely to follow through with it after seeing it on social media or on a TV show. [In fact, the National Association of School Psychologists released a statement warning, “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”] It’s a proven fact that those exposed to a suicide scene, a friend’s suicide, or even more so a family member’s suicide is more likely to commit suicide.
My childhood best friend has dealt with self harm and mental illness since early middle school. Her first suicide attempt was in seventh grade, and she has been in and out of mental hospitals and on and off of various medicines.
So watching the show and seeing Hannah place blame on others really upset me. I know my friend would never blame anyone else. She was very quiet about it, no tapes or notes or anything of the sort. Hannah blaming people bothered me a lot, because instead of raising awareness of these things, she was using it as a cop out from a crappy high school experience. Hannah showed no signs of depression or mental illness other than cutting her hair and cleaning her room – and those are both things teens often do. She was just upset. And you can’t raise awareness about something without talking about the warning signs.
So as someone who has been exposed to a dear friend’s mental issues and suicide attempts, I can tell you that you cannot blame anyone else. You cannot give 13 reasons. You cannot say, “Had you done this differently, this person would still be alive.” I think those who struggle with depression, mental issues and suicidal thoughts have something physically wrong going on inside of them. They need help; real help. No amount of friends could make a difference.
Justin did not kill Hannah. Clay did not kill Hannah. Jessica did not kill Hannah.
So excuse my language as I tell all of you that “13 Reasons Why” is a bunch of BS. Don’t watch it. Don’t let your children watch it. And please, don’t promote it.
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