The Argument for “13 Reasons Why” Not Glorifying Suicide

As a lot of us might know by now we live in a world where it’s become possible to become offended and suspicious of just about anything and anyone. While it’s not a new trend with one of Netflix’s hit shows, 13 Reasons Why, it’s still enough that people seem to think that the show is openly glorifying suicide and has pushed an agenda making the act into something noteworthy and even trendy. Not only is this a dangerous thought to have, but it’s a scapegoat argument similar to many others that seem to insinuate that what we watch and listen to is responsible for how we act. While this might be true in some cases nothing could be further from the truth in this case. There are those that commit suicide for a number of reasons, many of which stem from depression and lead to the individual feeling that there’s no other way to end the pain they’re going through but to end it. But TV shows and movies don’t have the power to cause this, as depression is something that comes all on its own without prompting. If a person ever did commit suicide solely because of a TV show and not a pre-existing mental condition then there’s something to be said about those that know them best and could have possibly helped them but chose not to. Some people can’t be saved as the depression that grips them is just too strong, but others cry out for help every day and are never heard by those that should be listening the closest.

Here’s a few reasons why the show doesn’t glorify suicide.

The suicide itself is hard to watch.

Despite the difference in suicide methods, which was done on purpose, the whole process is to show that suicide is not without consequences. Those that commit suicide aren’t just harming themselves, they’re harming those that care about them and those that find them once they’ve been missed. Suicide is a very selfish and underhanded act that is born out of desperation and is regrettable but also unbearably tragic as well as excruciating for the individual. If you’ll notice the young woman in the show slits her wrists and bleeds out instead of overdosing on pills as was written in the book. This was done to show that suicide is not a peaceful act, one doesn’t just drift away, it is a cessation of life, an act that is essentially a self-destruct that is both painful and final. It’s meant to be hard to watch in the show simply because it’s NOT being glorified.

The fallout is the equivalent of an emotional A-bomb.

It’s not just one person that is affected by a suicide, but everyone. The effect goes beyond one’s family, friends, and those that knew them. It reflects upon those that had anything to do with the individual, those that knew them in passing, and even those that didn’t like them. A suicide is a terrifying and ultimately damaging thing since those closest to the person will feel as though their hearts have been ripped out, while the emotional damage just continues to spread as it reaches every last person that the individual knew, changing them in some way that they didn’t expect. This is never a pleasant feeling as it makes them wonder if they could have done more, if they missed a cry for help that the individual gave at one point or another. Suicides don’t affect just one or two people, they harm everyone that is within the vicinity that learns about it, no matter how dramatic this sounds. There is nothing glorious about anyone that commits suicide, as it is a loss to humanity no matter who the person is.

The suicide in the show looks far more like a vengeful act than something born out of pure depression.

At this point we know that the depression of the character was real and that she had lost all hope, but the sheer willpower it took to create the tapes, to label each person and to explain to them why she was doing what she was doing and what part they played in driving her to the brink, that sounds like revenge, not mere explanation. Plus, the willpower it took to set everything up so that her friend would find the tapes and then play them as they needed to be played is great enough that one can’t help but think that the will of the young woman should have been great enough to take a second look at what she was doing and perhaps stop herself, or at least call out to someone else for aid. In this manner the glorification of suicide is invalid largely because she showed a tremendous amount of will in being able to complete what amounts to a bid for emotional revenge if nothing else, but couldn’t use that energy to save her own life.

She was just as much an emotional aggressor as she was a victim, and there’s no glory to be had in either role.


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