“Welcome to your tape.” The terrifying problem with the 13 Reasons Why memes.

Video via Netflix

Entire weekends have been lost binge-watching the show. Everyone is talking about it – online and around dinner tables. Conspiracy theories have been created and circulated. Now, the memes about suicide have arrived.

Yes, it was the inevitable next step following the popularity of Netflix’ new series 13 Reasons Why. 

The show is based on a 2007 novel of the same name and tells the story of teenage girl Hannah Baker and the reasons for, or people ‘responsible’ for, her suicide.

Next minute, Hannah has been turned into Salt Bae (seriously) and everyone is missing the point.

Is 13 Reasons Why Helpful or Dangerous? Post continues below.

The show itself has been labelled problematic by critics and mental health awareness groups concerned its deception of suicide is explicit, glorified and simplified.

These factors have been shown to make suicide appear more possible, an option even, to those exposed.

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The memes take this one step further.

The success of memes is that they are ‘popular’.

They represent the current mood in a way that is clever and accessible and make you go ‘ha ha’ and feel a part of an exclusive group of people that understand the reference.

None of this changes when the subject matter is suicide.

We still laugh. People still feel ‘included’ for understanding. And all of a sudden suicide is being referred to as an ‘answer ‘to someone treating you poorly – whether it’s not giving you a piece of their chewing gum, or bullying you in the hallways of your high school.

It’s dangerous to refer to suicide as a solution. It’s harmful to trivialise an issue that is far too complex to be encapsulated in an 25-character tweet. And it’s misguided to simplify the many reasons someone might consider suicide.

More than this, turning suicide into a meme is turning it into something ‘popular’ and this is nothing short of terrifying.

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