I kept hearing about the new Netflix show called 13 Reasons Why. I heard positive things like “What a great message” or “All young people need to watch this show.” So, like a classic millennial, in two nights I binge watched the whole series.
The show followed the 13 tapes a teen left behind after she killed herself. The tapes each centered around one person and how that person influenced the teen to take her life. After watching this show I felt very unsettled. Two major things came to my mind that I wish the show had elaborated on.
1. You are responsible for your own actions.
I don’t think it was the intent of the show, but it does make it seem as if the other students are completely at fault for this young girl taking her life. Absolutely your actions affect other people, and these students’ actions definitely affected the teen and her state of mind. However, I do not feel comfortable with blaming the suicide of someone solely on other people. In the end, it is a person’s own choice to kill herself. The other students definitely played a part in her despair and in her coming to believe the hate and in not realizing she was loved, but the suicide cannot entirely be pinned on them.
2. It runs the risk of glorifying suicide.
Again, I don’t think this was the intent, but 13 Reasons Why seems to demonstrate that suicide was the answer to this girl’s problems. That’s a huge problem! Taking your own life is NEVER THE ANSWER! It is a tragedy when one cannot see how beautiful and unique each life is. Without getting overly personal here, I understand the very real feelings of despair. I found myself in a situation in high school where suicide was a very real thought. It was a dark and terrible time for me that I hate to talk about, but deep down something stopped me because I knew my life had more to offer. I knew that I had value beyond belief, even if at the time I felt more alone than ever before. Even if I felt like I did not want to step into school ever again, I knew that getting through this temporary pain would be more worth it than the lasting pain of suicide.
If we are truly pro-life, we must see value in every single person’s life—from the preborn to the sick to those who struggle with thoughts of suicide. Every person’s life matters.
Every human being has unique struggles, and sometimes these struggles feel too impossible to bear. We may feel as if we are so deeply in sorrow that death will heal the pain. However, we must always remember that the temptation to end it all is straight from the devil. Of course he doesn’t want us to continue our life, because he knows we have so much good to offer.
Every person’s life is beautiful, unique, and worth living!
So, think before watching 13 Reasons Why. It’s not a terrible show, but you must understand that suicide is never the answer and that there is help if you need it. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always one phone call away 1-800-273-8255.
I’ll end with one of my favorite Bible verses for when the times are difficult: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
It seems like Netflix listened to the millions of people talking about this show. The website issued a statement explaining that, due to the nature of the series, it will add a viewer warning message before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series. Netflix also strengthened the existing warning message before other episodes to include a URL linking to professional organizations that know how to discuss the serious matters addressed in the show. This is a nice extra step Netflix made so young adults can think twice before watching, but if you ask me, I would advise you to not even bother. Nobody needs to watch a show about suicide.
Header photo from Netflix 13 Reasons Why