Controversy over Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”


By Michela Arlia

Junior Alaysia Jourdain said she doesn’t see why the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is generating all this controversy.

“I know some people take it the wrong way but I like it,” said Jourdain.” It’s not terrible, but you shouldn’t watch it if you’re not in the right mindset.”

However, many around the country do see it as controversial. Because of the subject matter about suicide, there has been a lot of criticism that the Netflix original drama glamorizes suicide and as a result may spur copycats from impressionable teens.

The show follows the story of Clay Jansen and his late classmate Hannah Baker who committed suicide and left 13 double-sided tapes on why she ended her life, each tape assigned to a specific person who contributed to Baker’s death.

While many teens, Murrowites including, binge-watched and fell in love with the show, Principal Mr. Allen Barge said that the show is all he ever hears about.

“It’s really generating a deep conversation,” said Mr. Barge. “The power of a visual picture or scene in a film can evoke deep conversation and create strong emotions.”

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and second among people ages 15-34. In 2013, 17 percent of students’ grades 9-12 tried to commit suicide.

The show’s topic is so worrisome that the National Association of School Psychologists issued a warning statement earlier this month to parents and faculty.

The statement reads: “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch the series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”

Assistant Principal of Guidance Mr. Joseph Williams said the show does not send a helpful message.

“It’s making suicide look glamorous,” said Mr. Williams. “I don’t know that students will realize that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.”

Jourdain, the avid watcher, said she sees that the show does glamorizes suicide.

“The show makes it seem like suicide is less painless than it actually is, and that is not ok because it is a very serious issue,” said Jourdain.

Yet, senior Alexandra Gadsden said that many people are blowing it out of proportion.

“People need to grow up,” said Gadsden. “It’s just a fictional story. Any work of art is supposed to push boundaries and if you don’t want the boundaries to be pushed, go live under a rock.”

In accordance for raising awareness for teenage suicide and making the student body aware of ways they can help themselves, Mr.Williams has begun a workshop within the school entitled Mindfulness at Murrow. The new program was already planned before the show ever came out.

The program meets three times a week during the school day and will feature different ways students can cope with stress such as meditation, all taught by licensed instructors.

When approached with the fact that the Netflix series plans to release a second season sometime next year, Mr.Williams raised more concerns towards students who watch.

“As for season two, I think it is going to make this option look glamorous as if it’s the only option and you are getting the last laugh,” said Mr. Williams.

Suicide is preventable. Viewers who are affected by the issues raised in 13 Reasons Why are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.


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