It is difficult to survive a day in the office or a night out with friends, browse social media or overhear a conversation in public without hearing remarks about the controversial Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why. This series based on the 2007 Jay Asher novel has been trending around the world since it’s release in March 2017 and individuals in the mental health community are outraged due to its triggering effects on populations who are at risk for mental illness and suicide. This racy fictional story is centered on teenager Hannah Baker who dies by suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes that reveal 13 reasons why she ended her life. Social isolation, bullying, sexual assault and the glamorization of suicide are at the forefront of this film and unfortunately this film negates the true depiction of mental illness.

Depicting fantasy from reality in regards to suicide and mental health

Throughout this series, Hannah meticulously plans her tapes and structures her death in ways that is only fantasy when in reality, the majority of individuals who commit suicide experience a completed depletion in executive functioning and poor impulse control and insight and may not even leave a note behind, let alone make an extravagant suicide plan. This series also depicts that Hannah’s suicide was driven by how others treated her and therefore her death was caused by others however in reality, her death was caused by a severe mental illness, whether it was depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder or anxiety. Unfortunately the first season of this series did not have any input from mental health professionals or suicide prevention experts and data has shown that suicide and mental illness is falsely portrayed in the media and can have an enormous negative impact on society. As a society, we are strongly influenced by social media, television, music, and movies and we often believed what we see and hear which can result in false ideas and potentially trigger unhealthy thoughts and behaviors in many individuals. Imagine if a young 13 or 14 year old kid who is bullied in school or who has depression or is just a fragile or emotionally vulnerable kid watches this show and thinks to himself “wow suicide is the easiest way out” or “I could do this to get attention”. In fact, research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide. Although watching just one show may not drive someone to suicide, these graphics overtime can have a bigger impact than many people think.

Suicide statistics

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide each year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals 10-24 years of age. Firearms account for 50% of suicide and women attempt suicide three times more frequently than men however men are three times more likely to die by suicide. Most often individual who have attempted or committed suicide will show warning signs however these warning signs may go unnoticed by loved ones and even health professionals. The reasons for committing suicide go far and beyond any one or two causes however studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of individuals who die of suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder. The most common mental health disorders associated with suicide include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder, personality disorders, anxiety disorders and depression.

Center For Discovery

Living with a mental illness can drive you to suicide and therefore obtaining professional help is the only way to overcome your struggle. Center For Discovery is a nationwide mental health treatment center that focuses on eating disorders, mental illness, and substance abuse with over 30 years of treatment experience. They work to establish a relationship with each individual client while also providing the most up to date cutting edge care in a compassionate setting.