As an educator, counselor and a cheerleader for mental health, I’m disheartened at the momentum of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” I know it’s based on the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and he meant no harm in writing the book just as Netflix as intended no harm in picking up the popular book and turning it into a series. I was so curious what the buzz was about I spent 13 hours of the past week watching the series to see what exactly teenagers are latching onto. What I saw was vindictive, graphic, and an inaccurate portrayal of depression as an illness. I had to cover my eyes at parts because it was too gut wrenching to watch.
The issues in this series, suicide, sexual assault, and mental illness are worth discussing and opening up dialog about, but not in this way. What I saw was the glamorized Hollywood version that sensationalizes these topics. It doesn’t bring the awareness component (I think/hope) Netflix may have been striving for. It missed the mark. It doesn’t discuss what to do when sexual assault occurs. Or when you have a friend who you think may have an alcohol problem. Or, maybe most important, how to help a friend who may be in danger of harming themselves. 13 Reasons Why simply masked it all.
Pain is something we are meant to feel. However, there are points when it seems to be too much and there are always other alternatives. Talk to someone, write, listen to music, get outside, volunteer….if you have tried everything, you still have options. Below are some resources: