The Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why” is centered around a high school student named Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes explaining why she took her own life. The series is based on the Jay Asher novel of the same name. The series tackles important topics such as mental health and sexual assault in an authentic way.
Personally, I found it difficult to watch a some of the episodes because of the graphic depiction of these topics. However, it is important that people are exposed to content such as this, which refuses to shy away from difficult issues, because they offer a starting point for valuable conversations.
Some critics have argued the show was too explicit in its portrayals, namely in Baker’s suicide scene. These concerns are valid, but it is up to individuals to decide whether or not they will be comfortable facing such content. The episodes containing this type of content feature a warning beforehand explaining to the viewer the graphic
depictions of self-harm and sexual assault in the episode.
This gives the viewer ample opportunity to avoid watching something they may find too upsetting. One of the core points of the story is the idea that every interaction a person has is influential because of the unknown impact it can have on another person.
On each of the tapes, Baker explains how the actions of others influenced her decision to take her own life. As the viewer, we see how each interaction with the people in her life affected her over time while simultaneously watching the other characters in the series cope with the realization of the power of their actions.
The point is, no one truly knows what another person is going through, so why not leave a positive impact when possible? In the end, “13 Reasons Why” was primarily created as a source of entertainment and should be regarded as such. However, that is not to say valuable conversations about mental health, suicide and overall human decency cannot come from watching it.