I hope you never watch the show. I managed a whole 10 minutes before I shut it off and wish I hadn’t wasted the time.

Here are 13 reasons why I hate 13 reasons why so much:

#1 Because of my Pediatric ER on any given night

Let me start by saying that I know a little bit about this topic. As a Pediatric ER doctor, I know teenage suicide firsthand. A typical night in the ER for me includes no less than 1 and regularly up to 6 teenage depression and suicidal evaluations. The age is getting younger and younger. The methods of attempts more and more convoluted. I’m the one looking at teens in the eyes with scars on their necks from hanging attempts and I’m the one trying to explain to parents what in the world just happened. So please keep reading.

#2 Because Teenage Suicide is real – not fiction

This year 5000 young people ages 15-24 will die by suicide. Every minute, a teen makes an attempt serious enough to require medical attention. Millions more think about it seriously enough to have a plan. Odds are you know someone ages 10-18 who is struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, cutting, or anxiety.  I should know. I take care of them daily.

#3 Because You Don’t Gain Justice by Killing Yourself

Even the hint of the idea that a human gains any sort of justice by committing suicide should be horrific enough to make us stop. The truth is that most truly depressed teenagers can’t think straight enough to devise any sort of letter scheme or plan to explain their actions. Their brains are hurting and death will not cure their pain.

#4 Because of the Effect the show has Had on Teenage Suicide

I’m told that since 13 reasons why was released on Netflix, the number of teenagers being seen in hospitals for suicidal thoughts and attempt has more than doubled. While you might think that there has been an increase in awareness of the issue, the sad reality is that the real reason that the numbers are increasing are much more sobering.

#5 Because the show glamorizes suicide

Yeah. Sadly, the show glamorizes suicide to such a degree that many who might never have considered it now do. I have seen this pattern over and over again in the ER. Teens come into the ER and ask to be admitted to the mental health hospital because of the sense of community and friendship they have found there. There is now an even darker bond achieved by a suicidal lifestyle that should scare us all.

#6 Because Suicide should never be Depicted as even an Option

It’s not even an option. It shouldn’t even be on the table. The truth is that a show about suicide puts suicide on the table – for everyone. This is tragic and heartbreaking. Netflix should be ashamed.

#7 Because of the Darkness it brings to people who need Light

Where there is darkness there must be light. To present a darkness while glossing over the light is harmful and evil. If there can be a redemptive option out of this dark show, it is in waking us Christians up and prodding us to be the light. Our world has never been darker. Let’s shine for Jesus now. Let’s shine right where we are. No more fear. Speak up. Love everyone. Be the light you are called to be.

#8 Because of the missing element of Hope

Even more than light is the need for hope. Hope is the belief that change is possible. For every person reading this post who feels the weight of despair, for every soul wondering if there could be a better day, and a freer way, the answer is a resounding YES!! Jesus loves you. He died for you. He is waiting to give you life with beauty and hope. Every scar on your arms, every tear shed, every hurt you’ve endured HE will redeem and use for good. Don’t give up. There is a better way. Hope is alive. Change is possible.

#9 Because of the lie that makes it seem as if death is not final

If there’s one common thread in the show, it’s that even after suicide, the star of the show still speaks. While that might sound good, ask anyone who’s lost someone to anything – death is final and suicide even more so in its method and pain. My mother’s brother committed suicide when he was in college. I learned his name, but nothing else about him in my 45 years on this earth. Death, you see, particularly in suicide, is silent. Painfully silent.

#10 Because of the real lack of resources to deal with the avalanche of need

Have you ever tried to seek medical help for someone with mental health problems? To say it’s hard is an understatement. On a typical busy ER night, we start off with 2 social workers to do mental health evaluations and after 7pm we lose one. On any given night we could have 10 patients in the ER waiting for 1 social worker to get them the help that they need. This is real life. If a show claims to help increase awareness of the issue of teenage suicide, let me ask you the next obvious question: who is working on getting more resources into the health care sector to deal with the need? Again, I call upon the church to rise up. Counselors, get training in adolescent depression and suicide and start speaking the truth. You are called for such a time as this.

#11 Because of the missing voice of truth to the show

If it sounds redundant it’s not been said enough. There is truth. There is light in this world. There is a better way to live. There is healing to be had. A show that focuses on the problem without offering truth is evil. If you’re reading this post and have a voice, speak up. Shout the truth from the mountaintops. If you don’t, surely the rocks will do it.

#12 Because of the deepening divide it creates between teen and parent 

While many have written about the need for parents to watch the show with their kids, the reality is that like any other netflix series, watching this show is private and isolated. Some lucky parents might be privy to open discussions on this topic, but for the truly hurting, this is a luxury they are unfamiliar with. In my opinion, this show simply widens the huge schism between parent and teen that was created the day the smartphone was dropped and continues to deepen its trenches in families everywhere.

#13 Because it is deceptive and destructive 

I’m not the only one who thinks like this. I read a great article called “13 reasons why is deceptive and destructive” over at TGC. Don’t be fooled, Christians. This show is real, and it’s deceptive and destructive. Odds are your kid knows all about it and already has an opinion on it. So turn your phones off, make dinner for the family tonight, and sit down with your kids and talk to them. Look them in the eyes and ask good questions. You’ll be glad you did.

For years I’ve wondered when anyone will start paying attention to the horrific rising epidemic of teenage depression and suicide. If we’re paying attention now (potentially one small benefit of the show), let’s no longer just listen. Let’s do something about it.

If you’re reading this post and are struggling with thoughts of suicide, email me here. If you’re a parent and need prayer or direction, email me here too.

And here’s also a further resource for you:

Fearless podcast image copy

18 thoughts on “13 Reasons Why I Hate 13 Reasons Why

  1. You are right on Lina! Thank you for boldness and truth I was shocked when I saw this was an actual show?!.. our family has dealt with that in the loss of my cousin devastating doesn’t even begin to define the after math.
    Yes too resources – very convicting Lina your comment on biblical training in this area! Why not be it the church as resource! God bless Lina!

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  2. Thanks for addressing such a difficult subject with truth and grace. Your medical perspective is invaluable

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  3. What can I say. Yesterday I read in the local paper about an eight year old who hung himself from his bunk bed. It has been on my mind since, and now this article.
    Kids need parents to spend time with them.
    Cell phones have isolated people, they don’t talk.
    Only the little be of God can help desperate people, young or old. Very sensitive topic

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  4. Thank you for bringing the TRUTH from your own practical experience in the ER to the TRUTH of Gods word….hope. There is always hope. May the good Lord use each of us as a light for those in dark places. Show us Lord 🙏

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  5. Thank you Lina for sharing your perspective. I read the book when it first came out a few years ago when my daughter was reading it. We had some good discussions out of it. However, I have not seen the show nor do I plan on it. This is a topic that needs to be addressed by the church. I am so glad you wrote about this. Too many times dealing with my own depression I have heard very negative and unbiblical comments. The only hope we have is in Christ. It’s not wrong to get help. It’s not wrong to use medicine to help you. If you need help, people do care, they will help you.

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  6. Here is an alternative view from my son who did watch the whole show. He felt that the message of the show was to make people, especially high school kids, think about how they treat others. Kids may think that it is no big deal when they bully or act unkindly, but they don’t know what the other person is struggling with. I haven’t seen the show, but my friends (not kids) that have say that it does not glamorize suicide. The conversation around my dinner table have been about two things. First, that what happened to her wasn’t worth taking her own life, and second, that our behavior affects others in ways that we sometimes can’t anticipate. If that’s what my kid came away with, I’m good. (Still not going to watch the show, though).

    I know there are kids out there that are struggling with stuff, and hopefully this show is not offering suicide as an answer for those kids. I have seen a lot of conversations online about it, and if the result is to raise awareness of bullying, assault, mental health issues, etc. in high schools, then I”m OK with that too. Kids that wind up in the ER are better than those that don’t make it there for help.

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  7. It is a horrific ending. So sad. This series is easy to watch. They are watching this series. I watched all 13 reasons, life is not simple, lots of teens do not fit in, have crazy families, do not know Jesus and in the back of there minds the thought of suicide is a remote option. On the other hand perhaps it will give them a voice or position as an independent, alone teen. Maybe they will speak out for injustice to them. The more you say “don’t watch”, the more they want to see it. I say teens speak up, we want to know what is happening, you need help. We are all in this together.

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  8. I agree with the bleakness and the lack of hope, however it isn’t fiction, it is a first hand account of the suicide of a real person, so while I agree it’s dark, it’s not a show.

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