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What We’re Binge Watching: 13 Reasons Why

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This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, "13 Reasons Why," about a teenager who commits suicide. The stomach-turning suicide scene has triggered criticism from some mental health advocates that it romanticizes suicide and even promoted many schools across the country to send warning letters to parents and guardians. The show's creators are unapologetic, saying their frank depiction of teen life needs to be unflinching and raw. (Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP)

13 Reasons Why Schools

By Caity Barnes

Saturday, July 1, 2017

In late March, Netflix released the series “13 Reasons Why,” adapted from the novel by Jay Asher. Almost immediately, the show flooded the internet and social media.

It set a conversation record on Twitter for the year, generating more than 11 million mentions in less than a month. Critics have been calling it a “trigger,” and concern has risen among school counselors, mental health professionals and suicide prevention experts.

Others are praising the awareness it brings to teen bullying and suicide.The hype surrounding “13 Reasons Why” has already gotten the show renewed for a second season. Wanting to know what all the hoopla was about, I decided to watch the controversial show.

The Netflix drama follows the journey of Clay Jensen, who receives a set of 13 tapes two weeks after his classmate, Hannah Baker, ended her own life. We soon find out that these tapes are Hannah telling the audience why she killed herself. The recordings are intended for those who wronged her to show them the lasting effects they had on her. The tapes include situations such as bullying, gossiping, broken friendships and sexual assault.

So why all the controversy? The show has been rated TV-MA because of its graphic content. In its final episode, the show displays just how Hannah Baker took her own life, which has spurred fear of copycat incidents.The conversation and visuals of sexual assault could also be alarming to viewers.

“13 Reasons Why” is dramatic and mysterious. Like most television shows set in high school, there are defined cliques and a plethora of personas. The diversity of the cast allows audience members to connect and relate to at least one of the characters.

The series demonstrates and reminds viewers of the hardships high schoolers face. These difficult, real-life situations can sometimes be forgotten and taken lightly by those who are not facing them.

What the show has done well is open a door for conversation about the topics of suicide and bullying.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide was the third leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds and the second leading cause of death among individuals ages 15-34 in 2015. And although the high school setting of “13 Reasons Why” covers only a small portion of that age range, it is communicating a message across the board.

If you haven’t already watched the series despite its popularity, add it to your “Watch List” on Netflix. It is a great show to watch with others because you’re going to want to have someone to talk about the situations portrayed. The 13-episode series doesn’t take a huge chunk of time to complete and it may just become your favorite show of the summer.