13 Teens Respond to ‘13 Reasons Why’

  |  Topic: Bullying, Entertainment, Health and Wellness, Media Analysis, Opinion, VOX Investigates
By VOX Teen Staff Members

“13 Reasons Why,” the new Netflix series based on Jay Asher’s novel of the same name, describes its rated-”mature” drama this way: “After a teenage girl’s perplexing suicide, a classmate receives a series of tapes that unravel the mystery of her tragic choice.”  Here 13 teens respond.

It’s literally an entire scam. It’s like “Degrassi The Next Generation” but way more emphasis on bullying and suicide. Although most teen shows are exceptionally inaccurate, this one has some of the most accurate details. – Thalia, 18  

It’s a bit cliché. When I saw the first episode, I was hooked. But as I listened to the rest of the tapes, the main protagonist started to portray herself as an attention whore, which I didn’t like. I would still recommend [the show] because of the story line. –  Rae, 13

I know the show has been a trigger for many teens who go through mental health difficulties. Instead of focusing so much on why Hannah chose suicide, I wish we had seen the the other options for people [who feel] like her. I like that in the end, Skye was able to find a way out (at least in the book). – Maya, 16

While I haven’t seen much yet, the exposition was really captivating. I was drawn into the show immediately. – Patrick, 17

[The show] makes a tremendous leap in exposure for mental health issues. Members of the show have defended the graphic depictions by saying it was for exposure. However, these depictions of self-harm, rape and suicide can be extremely damaging. The show depicts Hannah Baker blaming people for her suicide — an action that seems to stereotype people who are suicidal. – Haley, 14

The first episodes were hella confusing. I think Hannah did too much. I only saw like two episodes. – Keana, 19

Addictive. Emotional. Controversial. “13 Reasons Why’” has been panned for the age of its actors and the blame-game message it promotes, but I saw it as the best possible outcome for a show on teen suicide. Yes, the actors are 20-something-year olds [playing] sophomores. Yes, the show can be nauseatingly graphic, but I see dramatic and decently crafted show, and know a little bit more about what pushes some teens to suicide. – Khalil, 16

Showing Hannah’s classmates/teachers/etc. as unhelpful could discourage others watching from asking for help. The show never really delves into Hannah’s character and/or portrays her as having a mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide and suicidal thoughts. That perpetuates stereotypes and makes it seem like the problem was not as serious as it is. As someone who has first-hand experience with suicidal thoughts, I do not feel like the show adequately portrayed or addressed the issues that can result in suicide. – Eleena, 15

Clay could have prevented a lot of things from happening if he just stood up for Hannah, but at the same time it was important for him to step out of his comfort zone as the show progressed.  – Amariyah, 15

I don’t know if I genuinely enjoyed “13 Reasons Why” or the message it conveyed, but once I started I couldn’t stop. I needed to know the resolution. But I’m glad. It seemed to get better as it continued. – Lucas, 17 (this edition’s cover artist)

I wasn’t interested in the book, nor do I want to watch a show centered on bullying and suicide. I’ve only heard controversy regarding the show in the sense of trigger warnings and the effects of the series on our generation. It’s an iffy debate, as any art debate is (art being the script). It’s a hot topic for sure, and a topic I (for once) don’t have, nor want to form an opinion on. – Ogechi, 19

It glorified the idea of suicide, and it should not have. Instead of bringing people to be aware of the harms of suicide, it was depicted as martyrdom and overly sympathized. I disliked how suicide was displayed as revenge. Despite the glamorizing, the show was entertaining in some aspects and even accurate, where the flashbacks conveyed struggles some high school students face. I encountered mixed feelings watching the show, yet it was addicting. – Avanti, 16

I refuse to watch the show. I read the book in middle school and found it to be a gross romanticization of mental illness. After hearing about the potentially triggering content and graphic sexual assault scenes, I decided it would be best to not watch it. I’ll stick to “Scandal.” – Jahleelah, 17

Plus … a few extras from friends:

While most of the issues may have seemed overrated to people who don’t go through them, I understand that the issues pose a serious threat to someone who may not feel like they are equipped to handle it.  – Nile, 16

Bullying is a serious issue that goes on high school. And “13 Reasons” really touched on the aspect of bullying that could lead someone to suicide. Nobody truly knows what’s going on in one person’s life. Things add up. However, at moments I believe some things could’ve been avoided.  – Shaquelle, 18

I found it quite unrealistic. It was trying to shed light on suicide and spread some sort of awareness but instead turned the concept into an act of selfishness and made it out to be revengeful. I don’t think it’s something that should be shown to a young audience, [people] who don’t already know that suicide is an impulsive decision for a bigger, more difficult situation.  – Abrianah, 17

Let’s talk about mental health — at VOX-a-Palooza! 

VOX spring 2017 coverVox spring 2017 coverJoin VOX and Atlanta-area teens this Sat., April 29, at VOX-a-Palooza, our community event that includes creating art, podcasting, poetry, and interactive dialogue. This by-teens-for-teens event will also include the spring print edition of VOX, which features our special coverage of mental health — including resources for help.

12-5 p.m. at The Rush Center (near Candler Park MARTA station).

Click here for details & to register. It’s free!

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