TRIGGER WARNING/CONTENT WARNING
This blog post may contain topics that are sensitive or distressing to some readers. The discussion may include talk of suicide, self-harm, sexual assault, and violence. If you are struggling with any of these issues yourself please speak to a member of your family or your mental health support team.
CRISIS LINES WORLDWIDE
Australia – Beyond Blue provides nationwide information and support regarding anxiety, depression, and suicide. It has a helpline that can be reached by calling 1300 22 4636. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Hong Kong – The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong is available 24/7 at 23892222
South Africa – Suicide Crisis Line: Call 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393
United Kingdom – Samaritans Helpline can be reached at 116 123
United States – The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (ESP) can be reached at 1-888-628-9454
13 Reasons Why was introduced to Netflix in early 2017 and soon became a very controversial and talked about topic. The story centers around the late Hannah Baker who sends out 13 tapes explaining to each individual she sent the tapes to how they were responsible for her ultimate demise and why she committed suicide. I heard people talking about it here and there and decided I needed to watch it at some point. I wasn’t fully aware at that stage what it was actually about and thought it was just another teen drama. So, there I was one winters evening bored out of my mind and scrolling through Netflix. And there it was luring me in as it had done with so many others. I decided to watch the first episode just to get a feel for what everyone is going on about. Needless to say, I couldn’t get my eyes off of it and I ended up binge-watching it over the space of two days.
Parents quickly took to social media to blast the popular series calling it dangerous because it glorifies suicide and would make teenagers want to do it to copy the same thing that Hannah did. Not only do they think it glorifies suicide but sexual assault and bullying too. They seem to be worried that it’s going to make them want to go out and do these things because the show makes it look cool. The topics of suicide, bullying and sexual assault are no laughing matter and should be taken seriously by anyone and every one, however, the show really aimed to focus on sending out a message that parents, teachers, and peers need to understand that things like this do happen in real life and raising awareness can prevent an outcome where someone like Hannah becomes too withdrawn and scared to tell her story in fear of not being believed and subject to even further bullying. It is meant to get people to be more understanding and open about what kids go through in high school and to take it more seriously. But, it also intends to make teenagers aware that there is hope and that they can reach out for help if they endure such pain and trauma thus preventing self-harm or suicide.
Being somewhat of a mental health advocate myself I tend to look at things from all angles and not through blinkers as most people do. I am extremely open-minded when it comes to controversial topics and my views come from a place of love rather than hate. I do think that a lot of people just jump on the bandwagon when someone on social media has something negative to say about anything. And in this case parents especially were expressing their concerns about the show. From my perspective, I think that people can be a little sheep-like when on the internet. They tend to agree with whatever the popular opinion is at the time and they go with it. They follow the masses and dare not form their own opinion.
I agree that some of the scenes in the show were relatively graphic and could be triggering to some people. But then again they do that to show the seriousness of it using emotions to get the message across. Things like this do need to be talked about instead of just pushed aside in the hopes it goes away. We need to make teenagers understand that they can overcome trauma instead of feeling like they are alone and can’t express how much they are hurting because of what has been done to them. I get that it doesn’t happen to everyone and most have a normal childhood, however, it does happen to some and we cannot ignore that. We need to be more open about bullying, harassment, sexual assault and suicide because if we are not then it will continue to happen over and over again and no one will ever feel safe enough to start the healing process and go on to have a normal adulthood.
We see so much of the same thing on thousands of other movies, documentaries, series web series, etc yet we don’t seem to have any kind of opinion about that and continue to watch them because we find them entertaining. But, as soon as it involves a bunch of teenagers everyone gets their back up because they feel it will influence their kids into doing the same things. I can honestly tell you that if a teenager commits suicide that the thought has been in their mind whether they watched the show or not and there would be a valid reason behind it. Blaming a show for something like that is completely inappropriate and you need to start looking at the root of the problem rather than laying blame in places you shouldn’t even be looking. It’s the same as saying that violent video games make you violent. I am a gamer. I have been for the last 25 years. I enjoy playing violent video games and I am the kindest most heart-centered person you will ever meet. Am I getting my point across? We all have our own opinions and we all have a right to them. Just keep and open mind when it comes to mental health and trauma.