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“13 Reasons Why” sparks national controversy

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Hailey Hecht-O'Connor, Staff Writer

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13 Reasons Why” sparks a national discussion of depression and suicide.

The series “13 Reasons Why” is a Netflix-original that released every episode on March 31, 2017. Based on a book by Jay Asher with the same name, the show tells the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager who commits suicide. She leaves behind 13 cassette tapes, detailing the reasons she chose to end her life and the people who pushed her to do so.

In the show, Hannah’s suicide is displayed in graphic detail, causing the series to be surrounded in controversy.

Many health experts believe that her death in the series glamorizes the idea of suicide, prompting more teens to commit similar suicides because of it. Critics also say that the show ignores mental illness as a factor in Hannah’s choice to take her life.

However, according to people such Principal Erick Baer of Highland Middle School, Ill, “13 Reasons” is crucial to education of suicide prevention.

“More and more students are exhibiting signs of depression and suicidal thoughts,” Baer says, “I can see it being a lesson, if parents know the content of it and talk openly with their kids.”

The Center for Disease Control reports suicide is third leading cause of death for people age 15-24 and the fourth leading cause in ages in 10-14.

There is no clear reason why teenagers would consider taking their own life. According to Sandra Wasserman, Eisenhower High School social worker, teens see suicide as a way out of a hopeless situation, or because they feel lonely or helpless. Severe bullying and harassment is another major factor in teen suicide.

As for the bullying that occurs in “13 Reasons Why”, Wasserman states that the series really showcases how bullying, both major and minor, can push people off the edge.

“(Adults) tend to desensitize bullying,” Wasserman explains, “We say ‘Boys will be boys’, and ‘Girls will be girls’, but adults kind of forget what it was like to be teenagers. Their perspective has changed.”

Most people who take their lives exhibit various warning signs. These include suicidal threats, mood swings, depression, sudden changes in behavior, changes in school performance, change in sleep patterns, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and hopelessness.

“Teens want so badly to help one another, but take up stuff they can’t handle,” Wasserman says, “This is incredibly risky, and should tell an adult as soon as possible.”

Many options are available here at Eisenhower. If you or someone you know are showing signs, reach out to a counselor, teacher, or social worker at Student Services in room 222. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

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“13 Reasons Why” sparks national controversy