The Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” caused an internet conversation about the depiction of suicide in the media after it released March 31.
The show focuses on 13 tapes left behind by the main character, Hannah Baker, after she kills herself. Each tape is meant to tell her peers a reason why she killed herself, and the roles they played in motivating her to make that decision.
Some local and national articles praise the show for raising awareness for suicide while others condemn it for glamorizing the subject. Clark faculty members said these issues aren’t so black and white.
“To push people out of their comfort zone is to affect change,” Molly Lampros, communication and mass media instructor, said.
Felis Peralta, multicultural retention manager of the Diversity and Equity Center, said people often hide their struggles due to a societal stigma against needing help. Most people don’t seek help before committing suicide, according to the Center for Disease Control website.
Dr. Bevyn Rowland, a counselor at Clark Counseling and Health Services, said suicidal feelings aren’t abnormal and that it’s important that they’re represented in a helpful way in the media.
Lampros agrees with Rowland. She said suicide in the media has brought awareness of two of the largest issues affecting teenagers: suicide and depression.
While Rowland doesn’t think suicide was approached properly by “Thirteen Reasons Why,” she thinks there isn’t a show that has done it right yet. Both Rowland and Lampros said the way suicide is portrayed in the media is important.
Some people online have criticized the show’s lack of PSAs. The series didn’t provide resources or contacts for people struggling with suicide until after the season finale of the show. Rowland suggests implementing the PSAs at the beginning, middle and end of shows, so if someone turns off the program they are still reminded that there is help.
If students need access to local resources for help, they’re able to get free counseling at the Counseling and Health Center. Peralta said visiting a counselor is “like having a paid best friend.