A Clinical Psychologist Opinion on “13 Reasons Why”

“13 Reasons Why” is a two season Netflix original show based on a book written by Jay Asher. This show received a lot of media attention due to the topics discussed being particularly sensitive. This show discusses primarily suicide, sexual assault, bullying and more.

The directors and writers have released various interviews speaking about how they had multiple people (sexual assault survivors, bullying survivors, suicide survivors and more) help them portray their situations as best as possible in the show.

To bring this show into a better light, we performed an interview with clinical psychologist, Dr. Stephanie Vogel, and asked her about her point of view on the show. Throughout the interview she explains that suicide is not as black and white as it may seem and there are various factors that can lead someone to commit suicide.

A big issue that many people see with “13 Reasons Why” is the idea that the show might glorify things like suicide and rape.

“In some ways, it glorifies suicide for someone who has been bullied, for someone who is in a situation like Hannah’s. It is the ideal way to commit suicide because she was able to speak to the people that hurt her and that is not typically what happens,” said Dr. Vogel. “Because of her tapes, a lot of people changed who they are and the way they act and that typically does not happen.”

Although in some ways the show glorifies suicide, Dr. Vogel agrees that the show removed taboos and got information out to the general public whether they are suicidal or not. “People are better informed,” said Dr. Vogel.

Throughout the release of the show, it was heavily criticized because of the chance of suicide contagion. There are many people that don’t believe suicide contagion is a real issue, but Dr. Vogel said, “Suicide contagion is real and there is research supporting it.”

She discussed how vulnerable people can be at a higher risk of attempting suicide when they hear about other people attempting or committing suicide because they will be more likely to put the idea of suicide at the front of their mind.

When asked if Dr. Vogel would allow her son to watch the show, she replied that she would allow him to watch it, but only with her there for him to ask questions and discuss what is happening in the show. She particularly discussed the idea of having an adult watch the show with adolescents to help guide them if there are any questions.

Dr. Vogel addresses how “the only way to we are ever going to truly address suicide is to start talking about it.”

She also brings to our attention the possibility of why the general public thought the second season was more gruesome than the first because of how society has “numbed” us to violence against women and the second season addresses violence against men.

Overall, Dr. Vogel said that the show is a “catalyst for conversation and to get useful information to people who might not otherwise get it, I do believe that it has some serious drawbacks.”

The show is one of the few popular pieces that addresses suicide, but it also addresses, male rape, white privilege, the way the criminal justice system is easily manipulatable, especially to someone with money, and more.