13 Reasons Why and Insatiable Raise Serious Questions about Teen Mental Health

In today’s day and age, in which information is more accessible than ever, teens stream content from creators big and small wherever, whenever. With Netflix original shows like 13 Reasons Why and Insatiable, teens are exposed to graphic content including scenes of self-harm and satirical montages poking fun at obesity. With teen mental health concerns on the rise, many have begun to question how this content is affecting younger viewers.

In the last episode of 13 Reasons Why’s first season, the show’s protagonist commits suicide in a graphic sequence without any prior advisory or warning. After the episode aired, many viewers were left feeling shocked and distraught.

“The end of the first season literally left me shaking. I just couldn’t,” said a sophomore at Fair Lawn High School.

Another sophomore at Fair Lawn High School remembers her middle school banning the book that inspired the Netflix original, causing quite a stir among students.

“If anyone was found with the original book, it would be taken away and they would have to be sent to guidance,” she said.

Similarly, Insatiable has also been making waves both in schools around the country and on social media. Insatiable is about an overweight high schooler who achieves her revenge body after her jaw is wired shut for several months following a tragic accident. She is then scouted by a talent agent and is forced into the pageant world.

“Children under the age of fourteen probably shouldn’t be watching either of these shows to be honest,” said another sophomore at Fair Lawn High School.

Despite much of the controversy around these shows, some students still find them enjoyable.

“In Insatiable, I like how blunt and direct Patty is. I find the show super entertaining, although there were some parts that made me feel weird,” said a freshman at Fair Lawn High School.

It is no surprise that shows like Insatiable have caused many to feel concerned. Issues in shows like this one can span a number of topics including eating disorders, sexual assault, and bullying.

Jacqueline Freedman, a certified psychologist at Fair Lawn High School and a member of the Child Study Team has not watched 13 Reasons Why, but she has read the book. She does not believe the messages it sends are  constructive.

“13 Reasons Why glorifies a difficult experience somebody goes through, and it sends mixed messages about how to get the help you need when going through a hard time,” said Freedman.

While many adults are calling both of these shows inappropriate for teenagers, some students disagree. When asked whether 13 Reasons Why should be watched by teens, one student commended the show for its power to help those with mental illness.

“Teens should watch this show to know that if you have these tendencies, you should really talk to someone about it,” a freshman at Fair Lawn High School said.

Thumbnail credit: Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Header credit: Wikimedia Commons

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