Alerted by my FaceBook post on the impact of “13 reasons Why”, one of Mid-Day’s reporters delved deeper into the issue. It led to a Cover Story in Sunday MidDay on teen suicide/self-harm linked to the show 13 reasons Why.

Renowned Mumbai-based clinical psychologist and trauma therapist Hvovi Bhagwagar, 41, said she has witnessed a 40 per cent jump in the number of patients with suicidal tendencies, ever since the release of the second season of the show, which is based on a 2007 novel of the same name. According to Bhagwagar, it’s not the show’s portrayal of suicide that worries her, as much as how it shows that committing suicide could bring about a positive change in society.

Wrong message
Bhagwagar said that many of the teenagers, who’ve come to her, have been making some reference or the other, to how they identify themselves with Hannah Baker, the protagonist of the show, who takes her own life in the first season. After Hannah’s death, her classmate Clay finds a mysterious box on his porch, comprising recordings made by her, in which she explains the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. In the second season, Clay’s new love interest, Skye, is seen grappling with depression.

“Basically, what the show has done is romanticised the idea of suicide,” she said. “A teenager who came to me last Tuesday, told me that after watching the show, she felt like writing letters to every single person, who had been mean to her and sending it to them, before ending her life,” said Bhagwagar. She also pointed out that the series could act as a trigger for those viewers, who already have innate suicidal tendencies. “We see suicides in so many movies, but in this show, they have played with the characters’ emotions and enlarged it, thereby making the responses much more severe than it could or should be,” she said.

Featured in the Sunday Mid-day, May 27th, 2018