A Colorado school district is speaking out against Jay Asher’s book 13 Reasons Why after a spate of suicides in the county. For a while the book was an indie classic, popular but not overly so but since Netflix adapted the book for a series it’s been launched into the public eye and criticised for its handling of a teen suicide.
While the book itself didn’t originally come under too much fire, and was in fact thought of as insightful and praised, the Netflix series has been accused of glorifying suicide and breaking guidelines on how suicides should be portrayed.
Seven teen suicides in recent months in Colorado have led the Mesa County Valley School District bringing in a temporary removal of the book from schools and libraries in the area. It’s not known whether any of the young people who committed suicide had either read the book or watched the series, but the school district is taking the whole thing seriously anyway.
The novel was published in 2007 and received much praise for highlighting marginalised young adults. For the bullied there was finally a protagonist who spoke to them, and for many bullied young adults the book was a life line. However, the Netflix series has received quite a different reception and much criticism with many going so far as to say it romanticised suicide.
Colorado librarians are calling it censorship and it seems a fight is brewing, and as the story rolls on, it appears that other districts are drawing similar parallels. What do you think? Are these suicides life imitating art or is the original book just an acute account of art imitating life?