Mental illness should not be normalized in television, movies

February 27, 2018

Joy Webb

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    “Welcome to your tape.”

    When “13 Reasons Why,” Jay Asher’s popular novel was adapted into a television series on Netflix, I realized how terribly wrong it was for the topic of suicide to be the plot of a TV show for young adults.

    I remember walking through the halls of my high school the day after it premiered and listening to conversations about suicide. The talks felt normalized; the topic of suicide was treated as casually as someone asking about the weather.

    This month, I lost a dear friend to death by suicide, and I can tell you that there is nothing glamorous or normal about this harsh reality that plagues our society.

     Mental illness, suicide and other topics are normalized by media, including movies and television shows aimed at young teenagers.

      It is truly disheartening to see other topics, such as mental illness that should never be a plot for someone’s entertainment. Normalizing real life, life-altering problems is not okay, and never will be. While people need to be aware of all of these topics, they should never be a part of a means of entertainment.

    “To the Bone” came out in January 2017 also as a Netflix original. This film’s main character is a 20-year- old anorexic girl. I watched this movie with so much discomfort, thinking how those men and women who actually struggle with this eating disorder must feel.

    Netflix is a dangerous place for these types of shows that vividly show the main character kill themselves, as “13 Reasons Why” did,  because so many young adults and even children have access to watch them.

     All platforms of entertainment need to be conscious of the effect that their productions have on the younger generation.

    Suicide and mental illness should not be in shows or movies when there are human beings who struggle with these realities each and every day.