Thirteen Reasons Why and Its Effect on Young People | TeenInk

Thirteen Reasons Why and Its Effect on Young People

October 7, 2018
By TeaOnPluto PLATINUM, Dublin, Other
TeaOnPluto PLATINUM, Dublin, Other
38 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Thirteen Reasons Why is one of my favourite books in the world, but instead of my usual book review, I’d like to give my unpopular opinion on a story that has by now affected thousands of teens around the world with it’s popular Netflix adaptation.

I read Thirteen Reasons Why about a year before Netflix made it into a show, and was instantly consumed by the heartbreaking tale of Hannah Baker’s suicide. Although I read this book in the span of two days and loved every word, I was also left feeling uncomfortable and uneasy after having taken in such a tragic story in such a small period of time, but i had gained more knowledge on suicide and its symptoms and causes.

The story of Hannah Baker, a high school girl that left behind thirteen tapes with thirteen reasons why she’d killed herself had a very dark yet realistic ending when written by Jay Asher. Along with Clay Jensen's struggle to comprehend why his name was amongst the ‘reasons’ behind Hannah’s death, the book also features a lot of strong emotion from the sidelined victims of a young girl’s suicide, making it one of the most sincere but heartbreaking novels in the YA scene.

For this reason, I absolutely loved Thirteen Reasons Why, and felt it was something that could change the actions of many young people. My immediate thought was “I need young people to read this book”, and when Netflix announced it was remaking Jay Asher’s novel, I was excited. But I soon learned that most people didn’t even comprehend the real story of Hannah Baker and what suicide was. At first it angered me that the producers had recreated the story, but completely changed some vital parts that concluded Jay Asher’s message about suicide. Later, it angered me even more that people were talking about how there was no point in watching it, as “Hannah kills herself in the end anyway”. From this moment on, I realised that Netflix’s remake of this book had done the total opposite of what I thought it would; young people weren't understanding suicide and its signs and causes, but were beginning to romanticize the idea of a boy in love with a dead girl. Towards the middle of season two I’d had it. Although gun violence and self harm and bullying are important topics in today’s society and need attention, I feel there was no benefit to Netflix releasing episode upon episode of unnecessarily graphic depictions of these things. Those that watched season two may know of the bathroom rape scene, for example, or the almost- school shooting towards the end, and I personally feel this benefitted no one. On top of this over-the-top disaster of a show, Netflix has announced a third season coming soon, which I can only hope is not as brutal as the last.

I feel that the intention of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why was to show suicide for what it really is, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. His story of Hannah Baker and the ending of her own life was meant to show young people that actions have consequences and everything we do has an outcome, especially how we treat people. But unfortunately, Netflix’s Thirteen Reasons Why began a franchise aimed at young people, using their vulnerability and possible naivety around this topic to create a show that would make millions.

For these reasons, I believe Thirteen Reasons Why has a negative impact on our youth, and has completely neglected the emphasised story behind Jay Asher’s book.

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