Netflix recently announced its decision to continue with a second season of its popular television series “13 Reasons Why.” Based upon the 2007 fiction novel by the same name, “13 Reasons” tells the story of high school student Hannah Baker. Troubled by her seemingly overwhelming circumstances, Baker commits suicide, but not before creating and disseminating a series of tapes that target the people and events she deems responsible for her tragic decision. The series has generated both criticism and support for its impact on teens “in real life,” or, as they would describe it, IRL.
Executive producer of the show, singer-songwriter Selena Gomez, has indicated intense satisfaction for the attention the show has generated. A growing number of educators, psychologists and mental health organizations, however, have expressed concern over the sensational and graphic depiction of suicide and its potential to inspire copycat behavior among a vulnerable population of young people. The National Association of School Psychologists recently broke precedent and sent a letter to mental health professionals in schools across the country warning of the dangers involved in this series.
While the decision to continue the show for a second season is unfortunate and potentially lethal, the heightened awareness of this sensitive subject resonates as a clarion call to the culture we live in. In the face of “13 Reasons Why,” the hope of our young people today, and in the future, rests in our ability to embody, articulate and communicate a continuous series of loving reasons why not.