Is ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ Safe for Teens to Watch?

Thirteen Reasons Why is a Netflix original series in which a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes for each person she deemed responsible.

The producer of the series, Selena Gomez, has battled with both depression and anxiety in her life.

On one hand, the series is very gruesome and has trigger warnings for almost all episodes. On the other, it is very eye opening and sparks discussion for taboo subjects that need to be discussed such as sexual assault, addiction, suicide, bullying, sexuality, gangs, criminals, the justice system, peer pressure, PTSD, anxiety, depression, mental disorders, relationships, friendships, grief, intervention, recovery, and racism. The show sheds light on these subjects by presenting them in a sort of in-your-face manner.

It is no secret that the episodes can be upsetting to some, but it is the viewer’s job to determine whether or not to keep watching as well as which episodes to skip (if any). The writers and producers of Thirteen Reasons Why have repeatedly advised both young and old viewers not to binge, but to take breaks between episodes.

Anyone below the age of 14, anyone with severe depression, victims of sexual assault experiencing PTSD, anyone who does not like serious topics discussed onscreen, anyone autistic, anyone homophobic, and/or anyone with severe anxiety, should not watch the show for their own safety.

Each season consists of 13 episodes and because there is a small amount of episodes and a large amount to discuss, many upsetting things, both verbal and visual, are packed into one episode. In the second episode of Beyond the Reasons, a piggyback series off Thirteen Reasons Why, the meanings behind the episodes and the purpose of scripting them the way the writers did was a major discussion. There were also professional psychologists on the writing team because the writers needed help to figure out what was okay to script and what was not.

Triggers were also discussed during Beyond the Reasons because copycat suicides are a risk. However, the creators were trying to open people’s eyes and get them to understand that there is absolutely “nothing glamorous about suicide” and it should never be seen as an option. Brian Yorkey, the series co-writer, said during an interview. He makes it known that Hannah’s death was portrayed as a painful experience and should not be repeated by anyone in any way.

The 13th episode of the 2nd season depicted a scene of an especially brutal sexual assault and a murder attempt. A character, Tyler Down was jumped then sexually assaulted in a school restroom with a mop by a group of guys on the baseball team. He then went home and gathered a few handheld weapons to put in a car before driving to the school with the intent of shooting up the dance. He’d never gotten a chance to because another character, Clay Jensen stood in front of Tyler’s gun and stopped him from entering the school. Tyler eventually surrendered after hearing Clay out.

A couple of obvious triggers in this episode are sexual assault and gun violence. Although these are concerning for viewers, there is a clear warning before the episode starts that states, “The following episode contains graphic depictions of sexual assault & drug abuse, which some viewers may find disturbing. It is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.”

Watching the show on Netflix will give viewers an opportunity to choose whether or not it’s in their best interests to continue watching. The show is safe for mature teens and adults that can handle the topics being depicted and discussed in the show, being that it is rated TV-MA.

However, it can be educational to watch but also worthwhile. In the first season, the story line is more of a mystery whereas the second season has more of a “law & order” story line. This eases the tension of the suicidal background and gives a more slightly entertaining side of the story to make it easier to watch while still taking in the information the way it should be.

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