Year: 2022 Source: Crisis. (2021). 42(1): 64-70. SIEC No: 20220388

Background: The Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why (13RW) focusing on the suicide of an adolescent girl became a global phenomenon. It was accompanied by intense public debate about the risks of exposing youth to fictional portrayals of adolescent suicide. Aims: To explore adolescents’ subjective perspectives and understanding of 13RW focusing on the portrayal of adolescent suicide. Method: We applied a thematic analysis to qualitative data from interviews with 25 New Zealand adolescents eliciting views on the show’s portrayal of adolescent suicide. Results: Four themes were developed from the analysis: entertaining but not realistic; the unexpected shock factor; jumbled messages; and superficial conversations. Conclusion: This study contributes a youth perspective which has been missing from the debate on 13RW. This research highlights the way that youth, when given the opportunity, articulated a nuanced understanding of the representation of adolescent suicide in 13RW, viewing it as entertainment rather than a realistic depiction that added little in terms of suicide awareness and generated minimal opportunities for in-depth discussion.