How Backlash & Criticism Will Affect Season 2 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why

By  | 

Filming for Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why is already underway, folks. The Netflix series, based on the novel of the same name by Jay Asher, graphically depicts teen suicide and garnered an overwhelming amount of support as well as criticism almost immediately following its release.

The show centers around the suicide of a teen named Hannah Baker. She leaves behind 13 tapes for each of the 13 people she feels drove her to suicide. The show has faced backlash for its graphic depiction of teen suicide, with critics worried the show could lead to an increase in suicidal ideations.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the leading stars of the show, Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford, expressed how amazed they were by the response 13RW received. They also addressed whether or not the backlash would impact Season 2.

Kat said they plan to “continue the discussion from Season 1.”

Selena Gomez, who acts as an executive producer for the series, also addressed the controversy in a recent interview with InStyle magazine. She harped on their focus to “start a conversation” about suicide.

“I think if our show is able to start a conversation at the dinner table — even if it’s just, ‘That’s terrible’ or ‘That was great’ — it’s still starting a conversation,” she said. “It scared people, but it’s really important.”

And start a conversation they did. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows a spike in the Google search of the word ‘suicide’ in the 19 days following the show’s release. Phrases that saw an increase included ‘how to commit suicide’ with a 19% increase, ‘commit suicide’ with an 18% increase, ‘suicide hotline number’ with a 21% increase, and ‘suicide prevention’ with a 23% increase.

NOTE: These results do not show whether searches were met with an actions such as attempting suicide or calling a hotline number.

In an interview with Business Insider, lead author of the study, John W. Ayers, Ph.D, said the makers of the show should postpone the upcoming season or cancel the show entirely.

“If not, subscribers should consider cancelling their subscriptions so not to support programming that can cause premature death,” he said.

But, it sounds like the writers have no intent on changing the course of the story. One of the writers of the show, Nic Sheff, explained his stance in an op-ed published in Vanity Fair back in April. Nic described his own experience with suicide; he said someone else’s suicide story ended up saving his life when he, himself, was on the brink of killing himself.

He believes the discussion around suicide should not shy away from anything. “Facing these issues head-on — talking about them, being open about them — will be our best defense against losing another life,” he said.

“But the thing I am most proud of, in all honestly, is the way we depicted Hannah’s suicide,” he added, “‘specially the way Brian Yorkey wrote it, and Kyle Alvarez directed it.”

John W. Ayers, Ph.D cites the three-minute-long scene depicting her suicide as one of the most harmful scenes on the show. According to the World Health Organization, the best methods for preventing suicide include avoiding explicit depiction of completed or attempted suicides, because such depictions have been shown to lead to an increase in copycat suicides.

Regardless, those involved in 13 Reasons Why plan to continue telling the story of Hannah Baker in the way the initially intended. Dylan, who is currently filming Season 2, also stands by the program.

“I think every single word from everyone across the world has been heard by everyone involved with the show,” he said. “Whether that will have an impact or change the storytelling that needs to be done on Season 2, I don’t think so. I think they’re, again, going to tell the story that we think needs to be told and tell it, and try to do the best job that we can, like last year.”

Warnings were presented before episodes containing graphic scenes, and 13reasonswhy.info contains crisis information. Critics say that isn’t enough.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.