The Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why got Suicide Wrong

The Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why got Suicide Wrong

Jordy Atencia

On March 31, Netflix released 13 Reasons Why.  The show’s message was to be friendly because it would prevent suicides. While the show may have meant well, it did not take the opportunity to inform accurately about suicide and due to this may have even caused more problems.

In the show, Hannah Baker commits suicide and leaves 13 cassette tapes, each one emphasizing a person that lead her to the decision to commit suicide. This makes suicide seem simple. Everyone else is responsible for Hannah’s death. It is not true. There are several factors that go into a person committing suicide and mental illness is almost always the main cause. However, mental illness was completely glanced over in the show. Hannah, on her last day, went to her school counselor and spoke to him about how she felt empty and lost, clear signs of depression, and all he did was hand her a tissue. He didn’t give her any resources for her mental state and teens suffering the same depression that are watching the show may think that there is no purpose in going to a counselor because all they will do is give them a tissue and tell them to simply “get over it.”

In addition to the lack of mental health information, there were no attempts to reach for professional help. The counselor should have recognized the signs of depression and referred Hannah to a professional or a hotline that could truly help her out of her situation. Also, Clay Jensen, the protagonist, went through all 13 tapes and realized what happened to Hannah and gained a false view that just being nice to someone will stop them from taking their life. The truth is you need to help these people reach out to mental health professionals and give them resources like suicide hotlines and support groups. All of this, in addition to you being there with them and caring for them, will help them get off the path to suicide.

Furthermore, the show’s glamorization of suicide is concerning because it will fuel copycat suicides throughout the youth. Hannah Baker committed suicide, yet she seemed to still be alive. The truth that once you commit suicide that is it, you are gone forever is not seen. The show depicts the people that caused Hannah to take her life as showing guilt and becoming changed people because of her suicide. However, it is unlikely that these people will feel any type of guilt or that they will reform in any way after you commit suicide and you will not feel any justice because, quite simply, you’ll be dead. Feeding that idea to vulnerable teens could give them a reason to attempt taking their life. Then, Hannah was shown taking her life step-by-step. It was basically a how-to guide for anyone watching and there is evidence showing that the publicizing of suicide leads to copycat suicides.

Imagine a show that tells vulnerable teens that committing suicide will cause everyone to remember you and cause every person that did you wrong to feel guilty, that shows them how to commit the suicide step-by-step, that does not give them any information regarding mental health professionals and mental health resources, that does not give them any option other than suicide, and that does not talk about the most important cause of suicide: mental illness. Would you let your child watch that show?  


If you are feeling depressed or are experiencing any suicidal thoughts please contact any of the following resources. They are here to help.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Suicide & Depression Hotline – Covenant House: 800-999-9999

Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline: 630-482-9696