13 Reasons Why: How To Talk About Suicide?

Recently, a study came out showing that 13 Reasons Why was potentially responsible for an increase in suicidal thoughts:

’13 Reasons Why’ may have lead to spike in suicidal thoughts

13 Reasons Why

Which caused me to think about Kate’s suicide in Life Is Strange.

Even though the scene goes against the World Health Organization’s guidelines for portraying suicide — i.e., don’t show the suicide attempt (don’t show Kate going through with it) — the reason I myself am OK with that, is this:

People have the chance to prevent Kate’s death.

There’s nothing stopping a person from replaying the scene with Kate on the roof until they get the outcome they want.

Life is Strange22

Which is why I believe that, when it comes to portraying heavy issues like suicide, episodic games like Life Is Strange are better at it than television series like 13 Reasons Why because, ultimately, the choices a character makes, and how characters respond to those choices, are up to the viewer/player, not up to a writer who could have a different interpretation than you of the story you’re experiencing:

From the very beginning, I agreed that we should depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible. I even argued for it—relating the story of my own suicide attempt to the other writers.
Nic Sheff

To an extent not possible with a Netflix series, an episodic video game’s story is only as harmful as the person experiencing that story allows it to be.

For example: Want to send the message that, when it comes to suicide, it is not others, but the suicidal person themselves, who is responsible for their actions?* Don’t wait for anyone else to say so; send that message yourself by pressing Square:

Life is Strange48

*Where the show romanticizes the aftermath of suicide, it also blames everyone in Hannah’s life.
How ’13 Reasons Why’ gets suicide wrong

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2 thoughts on “13 Reasons Why: How To Talk About Suicide?

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