In today’S day and age, as a society we are mesmerised with anything reality – more to the point reality shows we watch on television, YouTube or social media outlets. The Bachelor, Big Brother, Survivor, Real Housewives, The Kardashians, My Kitchen Rules, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and a host of other candid, talent, cop, beach, rescue, ninja, immigration and renovation shows.
The list goes on, with many getting high viewer ratings.
However, the latest is a reality-style drama series in its second season called 13 Reasons Why produced by Netflix.
In season 1, the show depicts a young woman who suicides after outlining 13 “reasons” for her death.
In season 2, the focus is more on hearing or gaining perspective from peers who are mostly concerned with the aftermath of their classmate’s suicide.
Originally airing in 2017, the show created a great deal of controversy, mainly as it glamorises suicide by showing that killing oneself and leaving tape recordings is the only way to successfully send the world a message.
This show further tells people who are dealing with mental illness or bullying that suicide is their only option.
The scene is very much adolescent and highlights the effects teens have on each other through bullying and sexual assault, or how people should treat others with kindness instead of tearing them down through gossip and hurtful comments.
Seasons 1 and 2 are also very graphic, so much so that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention takes the stance that the detailing or dramatisation of a suicide can have the effect of sensationalising the act, especially if the person seeing it is experiencing at-risk factors.
Both seasons are not for the faint of heart, and there are many psychological professionals and agencies who caution young people and their parents who do watch it to seek mental health support as a result of the content if they are in some way adversely affected.
But is 13 Reasons Why so different from the “reality” of life as we see it on the news, read it in the papers or online on a daily basis day in day out?
War-torn countries with innocent children as casualities.
Continual shootings in schools across the US. Road rage, coward punches and rampages using vehicles in our city streets.
The difference with the Netflix show is just that – it is a show using actors and actresses.
Yes, the events are true, but the show ends and we know like any horror movie, the cast get to go home unscathed.
However, the most important facet about the show is to get people to respect each other more.
Be kinder, gentler, talk about our feelings, ask for help, provide help to others in need, and support one another through good times and bad.
Sadly, it has taken the depiction of one young teenager’s suicide to open a planet’s eyes to the realities that many men and women take the most important aspect for granted, our precious life.
Whatever your belief in faith, if we are evolving as a human race then let’s stand hand in hand and stop these shows from being made by simply preventing the occurrences from happening in the first instance.
If you are experiencing mental health issues phone Life Line on 13 11 14, headspace on 6055 9555, Northeast Child and Adolescent Mental Health 6051 7900, Albury Community Mental Health Service 6058 1750, 1800RESPECT or visit reachout.com
Dr Anthony Perrone is college counsellor at Trinity Anglican College. The views expressed in this column are Dr Perrone's and not necessarily those of Trinity Anglican College. Got a question for the counsellor? Email: email@example.com