When 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix, it inspired both tear-fueled binge watches and some serious debate about mental health issues. While the show took a mature and nuanced look at the tragedy of suicide, there were those who objected to the graphic depiction of the violent act. Stranger Things actress Shannon Purser cautioned younger viewers that the scenes may be triggering to those who have contemplated suicide or dealt with depression, telling them to “protect themselves.”
However, the show’s writer, Nic Sheff wrote a raw and insightful op-ed in Vanity Fair explaining the creative decision to show the violent act in painful detail. Sheff, a former meth user who once attempted suicide, pulled from his own experiences, hoping to show the painful realities and to dispel any misconceptions.
“It overwhelmingly seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could’ve done would have been not to show the death at all. In AA, they call it playing the tape: encouraging alcoholics to really think through in detail the exact sequence of events that will occur after relapse. It’s the same thing with suicide. To play the tape through is to see the ultimate reality that suicide is not a relief at all—it’s a screaming, agonizing, horror.”