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It’s Okay to Talk About It

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The recent Netflix hit, 13 Reasons Why, has caused controversy and conversation for not only adults but also young people. The show pairs delicate issues (suicide, sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, depression, anxiety, emotional abuse) with a captivating and engaging script to create a much-needed wake-up call for every generation.

So, what are the 13 Reasons Why?

The Netflix original series is based on the book with the same title written by Jay Asher, and it is a fictional memoir of the high school life and intricate suicide of Hannah Baker. Before her suicidal act, Hannah records 13 cassette tapes explaining her reasons for taking her own life. Her instructions only allowed those who contributed to her decision to listen to the tapes.

The show has gained recent popularity because it brings topics to light that people find uncomfortable to discuss and can even be too frightened to mention. For example, the show displays multiple scenes of sexual assault amongst several high school students. It also includes a cringing scene that shows Hannah’s suicidal act.

These scenes, combined with other mature themes, lead viewers to be more aware of the seriousness of everyday situations and to be open to engaging in complicated conversations. The merits that young generations find in the show are also the critiques of older viewers who think that the show is too graphic.

The show brings up good questions about the reliability of the adults with whom the teens interact. Hannah’s parents are unaware of their daughter’s struggles and remained more focused on their family’s business. Even after Hannah’s death, her parents fail to recognize the heart of the issue, which is the lack of emotional support for their daughter at home.

In addition, at school, Hannah’s communication teacher and guidance counselor fail to recognize the warning signs of her decline. Even after her death, they act in their own best interests to not disclose what they really know about her suicidal thoughts, including a written cry for help in the form of an anonymous note and published poem.

So, does the show paint a realistic picture of student life today?

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” In our present community, underage drinking, house and hotel parties, drug usage, and sexual activity and assault are commonly displayed and accepted as “normal.” The show has been criticized for glamorizing and dramatizing these types of events, but in reality, they have become commonplace and accepted practices.

Another criticism of the show is that it portrays these events occurring in a majority Caucasian demographic. However, these events occur in all demographics. Suicide does not discriminate: emotional issues are not partial to one race. Instead of letting these issues permeate one race, all races should come together to fight against the hidden issues.

So far, this show displays how other people view today’s generation: reckless, wild, self-indulgent, confused, and desperate.

Will our generation continue to conform to this world? Are you the change that we need today? Or will you be one of the reasons?

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It’s Okay to Talk About It