Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why


After all the commotion on the internet around this show, I just had to watch it. The curiosity was too much. It seems that people are divided into two groups: those who praise the series, and those who criticized it, saying it encourages suicide.

I don’t believe that any TV show has to teach anything when that isn’t its purpose, especially when it’s a show based on a book – after all, they can’t alter anything to try and make it more “educational” without completely changing the story as it is told in the book. Besides, how many gratuitously violent action films come out each year and get a complete pass? Movies in which adultery isn’t criticized are extremely common as well. So, why was 13 Reasons Why such a target? I believe that the series was the subject of so much criticism for dealing with a subject considered taboo: suicide. Despite not being “educational”, the series shows a story of bullying with scenes that are very similar to real life – but like in real life, not all fictional stories have a happy ending. Also, if it had a happy ending, perhaps it would not have called so much attention to itself, and perhaps we wouldn’t be thinking so much about the subject, agreed?

Despite defending the series, one thing is for sure: it isn’t a series that should be seen by just anyone, just as many books out there shouldn’t be read by children. Why do I think this? Here are some reasons:

The series idealizes suicide; Hannah Baker has already, certainly, taken revenge against the people who mistreated her in the past. Considering that vengeance is one of the biggest factors in many suicides of adolescents (approximately one fifth of them), this can seem to be support for the act. The truth though, is that Hannah never sees how her tapes affect everyone else. Hannah is very present in the series, almost like she knows what is happening, but this is something that would not happen in real life.

If it were an educational series, it would have failed: The series shows every wrong way to act towards someone, but doesn’t show how to help. Hannah should have received help she needed and should have been listened to.

Despite these “negative” points, the series is very good. Like I said before, “13 Reasons Why” does not compromise in being educational and should not be seen by fragile people, but with all certainty, it can be an optimal way to spark important conversations with your teenager about the subject.

Now, some points that the series touches very well are cyberbullying and the minimization of aggression, which happens a lot in the real world. Many times we encourage the victims of rape to shrug off the fact that it happened, as if it were nothing. It’s a sad truth that this is rooted in our culture, and it’s something we have to change. In addition, as I said before, the series does not save Hannah. Rather, it ends up showing the sad reality of many young people who suffer from bullying, and reinforces the need to keep an eye on our friends and family, and help them if they are showing signs of depression. Just as we are appalled at the finale (or start) of the series, we should be appalled at all the acts of bullying and abuse, and help those who need it in real life.
If you have thoughts of suicide, know that there is help.

To schedule an online consultation:
+55 (21) 99742-7750
Skype: paulamonteirocounseling