Tuesday, April 25, 2017

13 Reasons Why Controversy

Is Netflix's (and Jay Asher's) 13 Reasons Why too controversial to show on TV? Many experts think yes, and many others think it should be mandatory viewing for young teens.

I heard about this Netflix's show from a friend. Her teen and his friends were all watching it, and the show was the center of their daily chatting. She decided she needed to sit down and binge watch it to see what they were all talking about it. In passing, she had mentioned it to me. I had not yet heard of this show, however, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher is one of my favorite books, and I have read and reread it many times. So I was more than curious. I had to look it up. 

Here is the description of both the show and the book:

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Newcomer Katherine Langford plays the role of Hannah, a young woman who takes her own life. Two weeks after her tragic death, a classmate named Clay finds a mysterious box on his porch. Inside the box are recordings made by Hannah -- on whom Clay had a crush -- in which she explains the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. If Clay decides to listen to the recordings, he will find out if and how he made the list. This intricate and heart-wrenching tale is told through Clay and Hannah's dual narratives.

And the movie trailer:

I am intrigued. And very interested in how they brought Jay Asher's book to life on the television screen. And beyond that, I am curious on how they presented the difficult issue of suicide. The book is based primarily on the topic.

This show has created an uproar...

Many experts are concerned and feel this program will result in suicide contagion. (Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family, one's peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors.) They feel it will cause vulnerable teens to end their lives. 

While many others are saying it will help start the ever-hard conversation of suicide and bring to the surface the tough issue of depression and bullying. 

Which side is right? Do we avoid these issues? Does making a TV show like this bring to light these types of concerns? Or does something like this make it worse?

I have never shied away from the tough issues. I think it is important to bring to light difficult situations and always feel that books, movies, and shows are a great way to start the conversation. I do know, however, that glorifying tough issues can and will result in a contagion. Should this stop us from seeing or letting our teens see this show? I have not yet seen this show. I can not speak to how this show may or may not glorify the topic of suicide. I do love the book and feel it is a great conversation starter. I strongly feel that a conversation must be had, regardless of how difficult it is for us. I think avoiding these issues will make it worse, not better. And maybe, just maybe a book or show like this will save a life, not destroy one. 

This is a very controversial issue, however. And one most people would prefer to avoid. 

What are your thoughts???  Would you let your teen see this show? How do you talk about tough issues with your teen or your friends?

Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Best, Becca

For more information here is a great article from CNN on the controversy http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/health/13-reasons-why-teen-suicide-debate-explainer/